A rich history
There is more to High Falls than the impressive waterfall and gorgeous scenery. The area holds countless stories of families who lived in the region, for it had a great impact on past generations.

Town Creek was a natural obstacle that separated residents of southern DeKalb County from merchants, family members and churches in neighboring Marshall County. The area just above High Falls, near the current day location of the pedestrian bridge, was an ideal place to ford the creek.

Crossing Town Creek, however, was not always an easy task, especially when rains swelled the creek to a swift flow. In his book Count Me In, Sand Mountain native Euclid Rains recalls a story his father Archie related to him regarding a crossing attempt in 1889. Six years old at the time, Archie Rains was in the steer-drawn wagon with his parents and six siblings that came close to being swept over the falls in the high water.

Howard Mitchell, a member of the board that oversees the park today, was told a similar story by a Mr. Thrash. In attempting to return home from Marshall County with a load of flour, Thrash came to the creek only to realize that it was past the level considered safe for crossing. "He told me that he needed to get home, that he didn't want to camp out there for the night," Mitchell says. Thrash put his barrel of flour in the wagon seat next to him and forded the creek, his mule leaning hard against the current to pull the wagon safely to the other side.

Area churches often used Town Creek at High Falls to conduct baptisms. Following World War I, the picturesque area became the location for annual community picnics that by some accounts drew thousands of people.

Building a bridge
As the population of southern DeKalb County grew, so did the commercial needs of the region. Farmers often found themselves in need of supplies such as fertilizer when the waters of Town Creek were too high to ford, cutting off access to merchants in Marshall County.

The county commission decided to build a bridge spanning Town Creek, just above High Falls. County employees began work on the project, and were aided a great deal by local residents.

Some people remember that merchants in Marshall County paid for the hardware for the bridge project, looking forward to the boost in sales sure to come from an increase in traffic.

Billy Galloway, who serves with Mitchell on the park board, has copies of a few pages from a ledger created in September and October of 1923. The entries reveal that the Town Creek bridge at High Falls was a true community effort.

The pages are filled with names like J.W. Rains, A.L. Isabell, M. Richey, Luther Noles, M.L. Gunter, J.B. Slater and M.O. Mayfield. Entries show payments to individuals of $5, $1.25 and even 50. "They got paid 50 a day per man," says Galloway, "and 50 more if they had a team of mules."

Many people, the ledger indicates, donated a portion if not all of their time. The list includes several pages of entries such as A.B. Elrod, who worked 18 1/3 days - five of which were free - and J.L. Dalrymple, whose 2 1/2 days were free.

The ledger presents other interesting details regarding construction of the bridge. For example, on September 22, 1923, 14 bags of cement were hauled by T.A. Goggans, and on the same day R.A. Johnson hauled 12 bags of cement.

In a short time, the stone pillars were in place and a wooden bridge was built across Town Creek. The structure was a classic covered bridge - except for 20 to 30 feet on the north end. It is not known for certain why the bridge was left unfinished.

Over the years, the bridge survived floods and storms and fire. Highway development began diverting traffic in other directions, and the bridge became less useful even as vandals abused the historic structure. In the mid-1950's, a careless fire burned much of what remained of the bridge.







Preserved for all
Twenty acres surrounding High Falls were purchased with grant money in the early 1980's. Efforts were made to clean up the area and make it more accessible to the public. In 1998, the pedestrian bridge was built atop the original rock pillars constructed for the covered bridge in 1923.

Because of its remote location, High Falls remains unknown even to many Sand Mountain residents. But the efforts of Mitchell, Galloway and the other park board members have increased awareness, and more tourists are finding their way to High Falls Park each year. Many return again and again, captivated by the beauty of this natural wonder.