What Really Happened at Noccalula Falls?
The true history of Noccalula Falls is far more fascinating than any fictional tale, but it has been almost completely forgotten by everyone in the area. The Gadsden Land and Improvement Company, later to be headed by Colonel R.A. Mitchell, was one of the first white corporations to begin the "development" (deforestation) of the region. Noccalula Falls was under GLIC's ownership, then R.A. Mitchell's ownership, until its sale to the City of Gadsden in 1909.
Cavern bars, where young people would go for evening entertainment, became popular in both Birmingham and Gadsden as the area's caves were discovered by white settlers. At the bottom of the Black Creek ravine, behind the ninety-foot waterfall, a deep cave once stood that went completely through what is now called Noccalula Mountain. On the broad, flat entrance to the cave, Gadsden Land and Improvement Company had installed a small bar and a ballroom. It was referred to as "Lover's Retreat" in the Cherokee Advertiser in 1867.
After an attempt in the late eighteen-hundreds to extend the smooth flooring, mechanics using dynamite accidentally collapsed a large portion of the cave. The only trace that remains of the ballroom is an engraved logo, "FAXON 1859", possibly signifying the original construction of the attraction. The name Noccalula (originally Nochullola)-- probably gained popularity as the name of the waterfall because it alluded to a style of dance that was popular at the Falls. Noccalula was not a suicidal Indian princess: she was a German-origin evening dance, performed by merry white people in a damp and rustic ballroom.
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The Ballroom ...
The Truth About the Noccalula Falls Legend
... and why it matters to you.