Tallulah Gorge: An award-winning initiative preserves a breathtaking natural wonder

Georgia Power`s partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has paid off for Georgia citizens and visitors in Tallulah Gorge State Park, a panoramic preserve and recreation center. The Edison Electric Institute recently recognized this unique public-private partnership with an EEI Common Goals Special Distinction Award.

The Tallulah Gorge State Park features the spectacular gorge with a chasm two miles long and nearly 700 feet deep. The park`s camping, hiking, recreation and overlook areas are a favorite stopping point along U.S. Highway 441 -- the main route between Atlanta and the Great Smoky Mountains. A schedule of white water releases allows visitors to enjoy water recreation on prescheduled weekends each year.

The park project has helped preserve several unique species of plants and animals within the gorge. A sign of the success of that preservation effort is persistent trillium, an endangered plant species whose entire population is found mostly within Tallulah Gorge and a few miles of surrounding land.

The state and Georgia Power worked together to complete the Tallulah Gorge State Park with the addition of the $3 million, 16,000-square-foot Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center in June of 1996.

The Interpretive Center was designed to give visitors a feeling of hiking into the gorge as they wind down through the atrium past simulated rock outcroppings and natural environment exhibits. The center reflects the Victorian architectural period of the early 1900s when Tallulah Falls was in its heyday. Displays highlight hydroelectric power generation and the area`s history, including Karl Wallenda`s tightrope walk across the gorge, the Victorian resort era, the Tallulah Falls Railroad, early settlers and Native Americans.

A main attraction of the center is the award-winning, high-definition, surround-sound film "Tallulah Gorge" that takes viewers on a breathtaking tour of the famous gorge.

From July 1996 to June 1997, more than 400,000 people visited the Tallulah Gorge State Park and Interpretive Center.

Georgia Power entered its first cooperative agreement with the Georgia DNR in 1972 when it leased 10,400 acres in Gilmer County for a Wildlife Management Area. This history of cooperation culminated in 1992 when Georgia Power leased 3,000 acres of Tallulah Gorge property to the Georgia DNR for development of a new state park that became the centerpiece of the Georgia Governor Zell Miller`s Preservation 2000 program. The park preserves the natural beauty of Tallulah Gorge and the eight distinct ecosystems identifiable along the gorge.

The Tallulah Falls Project dam is 126 feet high by 426 feet long. A 6,666 foot-long water-diversion tunnel for the dam was cut through solid rock and is lined with concrete. It is on the Historic American Engineering Record`s list of "76 Historic Engineering Sites in Georgia."

Visit Tallulah Gorge State Park
Directions: From Atlanta: Take I85 north to U.S. 441 North. From here the park is about 33 miles to the park.
Phone: Park Office: (706) 754-7970
Camping: (706) 754-7979
Address: Tallulah Gorge State Park, P.O. Box 248, Tallulah Falls, GA, 30573