What Really Happened at Noccalula Falls?
Long ago, on a mountain summit within sight and sound of a rushing waterfall, lived a great Indian Chief whose young daughter, Noccalula, was famed far and wide for her beauty and loveliness of character. Many gallant braves sought the old chief for the hand of Noccalula, but only one was favored by the girl's father, a rich chief of a powerful neighboring tribe, who had much to offer in exchange: wampum, horses, blankets. Vainly Noccalula pleaded that her heart was already given to a young brave of her own tribe. But this young warrior, though noted for his skill and valor, possessed but little in worldly goods.
The old chief refused to listen and ordered his daughter to make ready for the marriage he had arranged. What was a maiden's silly fancy against many horses, much wampum, and union with another strong tribe? The girl's lover was driven from the tribe, and a marriage agreement was made with the neighboring chief.
The wedding day came and a great feast was prepared. In silence Noccalula allowed herself to be arrayed in festive wedding robes. It was incredible! To be sold to a stranger by the father she loved! Her chosen lover forever banished! Overcome with grief, she quietly slipped away from the merrymakers during the festivities...the soft rhythmical rush of waters called her...a moment she stood poised upon the brink of the yawning chasm. One leap--and her troubles were over. Heartbroken, the remorseful father gave the great cataract his daughter's name and since that day the falls has been called Noccalula.
This version of the tale, written in the early 1900s, is credited to Anne Mathilde Bilbro, a white female composer. Not surprisingly, this telling bears all the markings of a Harlequin romance, not a historical account.
Tragedy and romance were necessary features in any fictional tale during Bilbro's era, and undertones of racism were even more appealing. Given the time in which the story was written-- shortly after the City of Gadsden purchased Noccalula Falls-- it is likely that version came about as an advertisement. The only accurate statement that Bilbro makes is that Noccalula Falls was indeed originally called Black Creek Falls.
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The Story ...
The Truth About the Noccalula Falls Legend
... and why it matters to you.