What Really Happened at Noccalula Falls?
Despite its kitsch, Noccalula Falls Park remains beautiful and alluring. The mountain is the southermost point of the Lookout Mountain plateau, itself the southernmost boundary of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Black Creek runs over and through the mountain, tumbling off the cliff-side to create a ninety-foot waterfall in a moderately populated part of the town. Noccalula Falls Park is a city attraction, and home to most of the town's car shows, barbeques, fundraisers, children's parties, and casual get-togethers.
The vanishing beauty of Noccalula Falls is scantily protected by the fact that it remains a profitable income source for the City of Gadsden. The land was sold to the city in 1909 by Reuben Alexander Mitchell, a local tycoon and the namesake of the elementary school adjacent to the park. Mitchell sold the property after it lost its profitability due to an accident that destroyed its main attraction. Over time, the area was developed as a general park and tourist destination. The area now contains a botanical garden, menagerie, petting zoo, and gift shop. The waterfall itself remains loud, untame, and glorious, despite the overdevelopment of the rest of the park.
At the edge of Noccalula Falls, near the duck-food dispensers and coin-operated binoculars, a statue stands poised and ready to leap. Gaunt and gangly, "Noccalula" is dressed in a generic plains-Indian costume, complete with oversized moccasins and gnarled braids. At the foot of the statue, an inscription and dedication present the story of Noccalula. The statue's foot-notes throw in a few historical facts to make the story seem credible, and insist that the legend is based in reality. The same well-circulated telling appears on nearly every pamphlet, brochure, and website published by the City of Gadsden.
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The Park ...
The Truth About the Noccalula Falls Legend
... and why it matters to you.