1847; A tour to the river Saguenay...Philadelphia A summer in the wilderness...New York and Philadel.

Adventures in the wilds of the United States and British American provinces online

. (page 31 of 43)
Online Library1847; A tour to the river Saguenay...Philadelphia A summer in the wilderness...New York and PhiladelAdventures in the wilds of the United States and British American provinces → online text (page 31 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ing a song of gladness and freedom. '^ In process of time the
Yemassee chief was convinced that Kostoyeak told a true story,
and he was, therefore, married to the long«loved maiden of Im
choice.

Enraged at these events, Chonesta assembled his warriors,
and made war upon the fortunate Cherokee and his whole tribe.
The Great Spirit was the friend of Kostoyeak, and he was tri-
umphant. He ^w Chonesta with his own hand, and destroyed
his briivest warriors, and finally became the possessor of half
the entire Tennessee valley.

Years rolled on, and Kostoyeak as well as his wif^ were num-
bered among the dead. They were buried with evei:y Indian
honor in the valley of Naeooehee, and, to perpetuate their
many virtues in after yearS) their several nations erected over



Digitized



by Google



858 YALLST 07 NACOOCHEB.

their remains the mounds which now adorn a portion of the
valley where they lived.

The other legend to which I have alluded is as follows : The
meaning of the Indian word Naeoochee is the *^ Evening Star,"
and was applied to a Cherokee girl of the same name. She
was distinguished for her beauty, and a strange attachment for
the flowers and the birds of her native valley. She died in her
fifteenth summer, and at the twilight hour of a supmer day.
On the evening following her burial, -a newly-born star made
its appearance in the sky, and all her kindred cherished the
belief that she whom they had thought as lovely as the star,
had now become the brightest of the whde array which looked
down upon the world, and so she has ever been remembered (as
well as the valley where she lived) as Na-coo-chee, or the Evening
Star. The spot of earth where the maiden ie said to have been
buried is now covered with flowers, and the waters of the beau-
tiful Naeoochee .seem to be murmuring a perpetual song in
memory of the departed.

That this letter may leave a permanent impression upon my
reader's mind, I will append to it the following poem written
by a Georgia poet, Henry B. Jackson, Esq.

Itflttttt ^au\—Mt at ^mttt\tt.

Before me, as I stand, his broad, round head

MottQt Yon AK lifts the neighboring hills above,
While, at his foot, all pleasantly is spread

Nacoocbse's vale, sweet as a dream of love.

Cradle of peace ! mild, gentle as the dove
Whose tender accents from yon woodlands swell,

Must she have been who thus has interwove
Her name with thee, and thy soft, holy spell,
And all of peaoe which on this troubled ^obe naj iwell !

Nacoochkb— in tradition, thv sweet queen —
Has vanished with her maidens : not again

Along thy meadows shall their forms be seen ;
The mountain echoes catch no more the strain
Of their wild Indian lays at evening's wane ; ' -



Digitized



by Google



YALLET OF NACOOCHEB. 359

No more, where rambling branches interwine,

They pluck the jasmme flowers, or break the cane
Beside the marshy stream, or from the rine

Shake down, in purple showers, the luscious muscadine.

ff

Yet lound thee hangs the same sweet spirit still !

Thou art among these hills a sacred spot.
As if shut out from all the clouds of ill

That gloom so darkly o'er the human lot.

6n thy green breast the world I quite forgot —
Its stem contentions — ^its dark grief and care.

And I breathed freer, deeper, and blushed not
At old emotions long, long stifled there.
Which sprimg once more to life in thy- calm, loVing air.

I saw the last bright gleam of sunset play

On Yonah's lofty head : all quiet grew
Thy bosom, which beneath the shadows lay

Of the surrounding mountains ; deeper blue

Fell on their mighty summits ; evening threw
Her veil o'er all, and on her asure brow

A bright star shone; a trusting form I drew
Yet closer to my side ; above, below.
Within where peace and hope life may not often know !

Thou loveliest of earth's valleys I fare thee well I

Nor is the parting pangless to my soul.
Youth, hq»e and happiness with thee shall dwell, •

Unsullied Nature hold o'er thee control,

And years sUll leave thee beauteous as they roll.
Oh I I could linger with thee ! yet this spell

Must break, e'en as upon my heart it stole,
And found a weakness there I may not tell —
An anxious life, a troubled ftiture claim me 1 fkre thee well I



Digitized



by Google



CASCADE OF TUCCOAH,



The little village where I am now staying is deddedly the
most interesting in the northern part of Georgia. There is
nothing particularly fine about its buildings, and it only con-
tains some three hundred inhabitants, but it commands a mag-
nificent prospect of two ranges of the Alleghany Mountains.
It is remarkable for the healthfulness of its climate, and is the
summer resort of between forty and fifty of the most wealthy
and accomplished families of Georgia and South Carolina, a
number of whom have erected and are erecting elegant country
seats in its immediate vicinity. It contains a mineral spring,
which is said to have Saved the lives of many individuals ; and
it patronizes two hotels, w&ere the tourist may obtain all the
luxuries of the North as well as the South, and in a style which
must gratify &nd astonish him, when he remembers that he has
reached the end of carriage traveling, and is on the confines of
an almost impassable wilderness. The water-power in its
neighborhood would supply at least fifty factories, and it yields
more than a sufficient quantity of iron ore to furnish constant
employment to an extensive smelting establishment and furnace.
Its soil is of the best quality, and yields in great abundance
every variety of produce peculiar to a temperate climate. But
the chief attraction of Clarksville is, that it is the centre of
some of the most romantic scenery in the world, and the stop-
ping-place for all those who visit Nacoochee Valley, Tonah
Mountain, the Tuccoah Cascade, Tallulah Falls, and Trail
Mountain. The first two curiosities alluded to have already
been described, and I now purpose to introduce to my reader



Digitized



by Google



OABCADB 09 TUCCOAH. 861

the peculiar and beantifal Oascadcof Taccoah, reserving the
two other marvels of nature for future letters.

The Tuccoah is a very small stream — a mere brooklet, and
for the most part is not at all distinguished for any other qua-
lity than those belonging to a thousand other sparkling streams
of this region ; but, in its oceanward course, it performs one
leap which has given it a reputation. On account of this leap
the aborigines christened it with the name of Tuecoah or the
leatUiful. To see this cascade, in j^our mind's eye, (and I here
partly quote the language of one who could fully appreciate its
beauty,) imagine a sheer precipice of gray and rugged rock, one
hundred and eighty-six feet high, with a little quiet lake at its
base, surrounded by sloping masses of granite and tall shadowy
trees. From the overhanging lips of this cliff, aloft, between
your upturned eyes and the sky, comes a softly flowing stream.
After making a joyous leap it breaks into a shower of heavy
spray, and scatters its drops more and more widely and minute,
until, in little more than a drizzling mist it falls upon the
smooth, moss-covered stones lying immediately beneath. All
the way up the sides of this. precipice cling, wherever space is
afforded, little tufts of moss and delicate vines and creepers,
contrasting beautiftiUy with the 'solid granite. There is no
stunning noise of falling waters, but only a dripping, pattering,
plashing in the lake ; a murmuring sound, which must be very
grateful during the noontide heat of a summer day. There
comes also a soft cool breeze, constantly from the foot of the
precipice, caused by the falling shower, and this ripples the
surfiftce of the pool and gently agitates the leaves around and
overhead.

Connected with the Cascade of Tuccoah is an Indian tradi-
tion, which was related to me by a gentleman connected with
the Georgia University, who obtained it from a Cherokee chief.
The occurrence is said to be well authenticated, and runneth
in tins wise : A short time previous to the Revolution, the Che-
xokees were waging a very bitter warfare against a powerful
tribe of Indians who dwelt in the country of the Potomac.
During one of their pitched battles, it so happened that the



Digitized



by Google



862 CASCADE OF TUCCOAH«

Gherokees made captive al>oat a dozen of their enemies, whom
they hrought into their own country safely hound. Their in-
tention was to sacrifice the prisoners ; hut, as they wished the
ceremony to he particularly imposing, on account of the fame
of the captives, it was resolved to postpone the sacrifice until
the following moon. In the meantime the Cherokee hravea
went forth to battle again, while the prisoners, now more se-
curely bound than ever, were left in a large wigwam near Tuc-
coah, in the especial charge^ of an old woman, who was noted
for her savage patriotism.

Day followed day, and, as the unfortunate enemies lay in
the lodge of the old woman, she dealt out to them a scanty sup-
ply of food and water. They besought the woman to release
them, and offered her the most valuable of Indian bribes, but
she held her tongue and remained faithful to her trust. It was
now the morning of a pleasant day, when an Indian boy called
at the door of the old woman's lodge and told her that he had
seen a party of their enemies in a neighboring valley, and he
thought it probable that they had come to rescue their fellows.
The woman heard this intelligence in silence, but bit her lip in
anger and defiance. On re-entering her lodge another appeal
for freedom was made, and the prisoners were delighted to see
a smile playing about the countenance of their keeper. She
told them she had relented, and was willing to let them escape
their promised doom, but it must be on certain conditions.
They were first to give into her hands all their personal eflFects,
which she would bury under the lodge. She did not wish to
be discovered, and they must therefore depart at the dead of
night. She did not wish them to know how to find their way
back to the lodge, whence they might see fit to take away her
reward, and she therefore desired that they should be blind-
folded, and consent to her leading them about two miles through
a thick wood, into an open country, when she would release
them. The prisoners gladly consented ; and, while they were
suiTering themselves to be stripped of their robes and weapons,
a heavy cloud canopied the sky, as if heralding a storm. At
the hour of midnight loud peals of thunder bellowed through



Digitized



by Google



CASOADB OF TUCCOAH. 863

the firmament, and terribly flashed the lightning. The night
and the contemplated deed were admirably suited, thought the
warriors, and so thought the woman also. She placed leathern
bands around the eyes of her captives ; and, having severed
the thongs which confined their feet, bade th^m follow whither .
she might lead. They were connected with each other by iron
withes ; and so the woman led them*to their promised freedom.
Intricate, and winding, and tedious was the way ; but not a
murmur was uttered, nor a word spoken. Now has the strange
procession reached a level spot of earth, and the men step
proudly on their way. Now have they reached the precipice
of Tuccoah ; and as the woman walks to the very edge,
she makes a sudden wheel, and, one after the other, are the
poor captives launched into the abyss below. A loud wail of
triumph echoes through the air from the lips of the woman-
fiend, and, with the groans of the dying in her ears, and the
very lightning in her path, does she retrace her steps to her
lodge to seek repose, and then on the morrow to proclaim her
cruel and unnatural deed. ^

In the bottom of the Tuccoah pool may now be gathered
small fragments of a white material, resembling soap-stone, and
many people allege that these are the remains of the Indian
captives who perished at the foot of the precipice.



Digitized



by Google



THE FALLS OF TALLULAH.



As a natural curiosity the Falls of Tallulah are on a par
with the River Saguenay and the Falls of Niagara. They had
been described to me in the most glowing and enthusiastic
manner, and yet the reality far exceeds the scene which I had
conceived. They have filled me with astonishment, and created
a feeling strong enough almost to induce me to remain withizi
hearing of their roar forever.

The Cherokee word TaUuldh or Turrurdkj signifies the ter-
rible^ and was originally applied to the river of that name on
account of its fearful falls. This river rises among the Alle-
ghany mountains, and is a tributary of the Savannah. Its
entire course lies through a mountain land, and in every par-
ticular it is a mountain stream, narrow, deep, clear^ cold, and
subject to evey variety of mood. During the first half of its
career it winds among the hills as if in uneasy joy, and then
for several miles it wears a placid appearance, and you can
scarcely hear the murmur of its waters. Soon, tiring of this
peaceful course^ however, it narrows itself for an approaching
contest, and runs through a chasm whose walls, about two miles
in length, are for the most part perpendicular; and, after
making withfei the space of half a mile a number of leaps as
the chasm deepens, it settles into a turbulent and angry mood,
and so continues until it leaves the chasm and regains its
wonted character. The Falls of Tallulah, properly speaking,
are five in number, and have been christened Lodare^ Tern-
pesta^ OceanOy Horicony and the Serpentine, Their several
heights are said to be forty-five feet, one hundred, one hundred



Digitized



by Google



THE FALLS' 07 TALLULAH. 865

and twenty, fifty, and thirty feet, making, in connection with
the accompanying rapids, a descent of at least four hundred
feet within the space of half a mile. At this point the stream
is particnla^pr winding, and the cliffs of solid granite on either
side, which are perpendicular, vary in height from six hundred
to nine hundred feet, while the mountains which back the cliffs
reach an elevation of perhaps fifteen hundred feet. Many of
the pools are very large and deep, and the walls and rocks in
their immediate vicinity are always green with luxuriant mosses.
The vegetation of the whole chasm is in fact particularly rich
and varied ; for you may here find not only the pine, but speci-
mens of every variety of the more tender trees, together with
lichens, and vines, and flowers, which would keep the botanist
employed for half a century. Up to the present time, only
four paths have been discovered leading to the margin of the
water, and to make either of these descents requires much of
the nerve and courage of the samphire-gatherer. Through this
immense gorge a strong wind is ever blowing, and the sunlight
never falls upon the cataracts without forming beautiful rain-
bows, which contrast strangely with the surrounding gloom and
horror ; and the roar of the waterfalls, eternally ascending to
the sky, comes to the ear like a voice from heaven, calling upon
man to wonder and admire.

Of the more peculiar features which I have met with in the
Tallulah chasm, the following are the only ones which have
yet been christened, viz. : the Devil's Pulpit, the Devil's Dwell-
ing, the Eagle's Nest, the Deer Leap, Hawthorn's Pool, and
Hanck's Sliding Place.

The DeviTs Pulpit is a double-headed and exceedingly
ragged cliff, which actually hangs over the ravine, and esti-
mated to be over six hundred feet high. While standing upon
the brow of this precipice I saw a number of buzzards sitting
upon the rocks below, and appearing like a flock of blackbirds.
While looking at them, the thought came into my mind that l!
would startle them from their fancied security, by throwing a
stone among them, t did throw the stone, and with all my
might, too, but instead of going across the ravine, as I sup-



Digitized



by Google



THB YALL8 OF SAIXULAH.

posed It woold, it fell out of mj sigbt, and wpfmxeotij at the
rerj base of the cliff npon which I was standing. This little
incident gave me a realixing sense of the immense width and
depth of the chasm* While npon this cliff also, wkh mj arms
clasped aronnd a small pine tree, an eagle came sailing np the
chasm in mid air, and, as he cast his eye upward at mj insig>
nificant form, he nttered a lond shriek as if in anger at mj
temerity, and continued on his way, swooping above the spray
of the waterfalls.

The DeviTB Dwelling is a cave of some twenty feet in depth,
which occupies a conspicuous place near the summit of a preci-
pice overlooking the Horicon Fall. Near its outlet is a singu-
lar rock, wUch resembles (from the opposite side of the gorge)
the figure of a woman in a sitting posture, who is said to be the
wife or better-half of the devil. I do not believe this story, and
cannot therefore endorse the prevailing opinion.

The Eagle B Neit is a rock which projects from the brow of
a cliff reputed to be seven hundred feet high, and perpendicu-
lar. The finest view of this point is from the margin of the
water, where it is grand beyond compare. To describe it with
the pen were utterly impossible, but it was just such a scene
as would have delighted the lamented Cole, and by a kindred
genius alone can it ever be placed on the canvas.

The Deer Leap is the highest cliff in the whole chasm, mea-
suring about nine hundred feet, and differs from its fellows in
two particulars. From summit to bottom it is almost without a
fissure or an evergreen, and remarkably smooth ; and over it,
in the most beautiful manner imaginable, tumbles a tiny stream,
which scatters upon the rocks below with infinite prodigality
the purest of diamonds and pearls, appearing to be woven into
wreaths of foam. It obtained its name from the circumstance
that a deer was once pursued to this point by a hound, and in
its terror, cleared a pathway through the air, and perished in
the depths below.

HawthorrCs Pool derives its name from the fact that in its
apparently soundless waters a young and accomplished English
clergyman lost his life while bathing ; and Hanck*B Sliding



Digitized



by Google



THE VALLS OF TALLULAH. 367

Place is so called because a native of this region once slipped
off the rock into a sheet of foam, and was rescued from his
perilous situation not much injured, but immensely frightened.
But of all the scenes which I have been privileged to enjoy
in the Tallulah chasm, the most glorious and superb was wit-
nessed in the night time. For several days previous to my
coming here the woods had been on fii'e, and Z was constantly
on the watch for a night picture of a burning forest. On one
occasion, as I was about retiring, I saw a light in the direction
of the Falls, and concluded that I would take a walk to the
Devil's Pulpit, which was distant from my tarrying place some
hundred' and fifty yards. When I reached there I felt con-
vinced that the fire would soon be in plain view, for I was on
the western side of the gorge, and the wind was blowing from
the eastward. In a very few moments my anticipations were
realized, for I saw the flame licking up the dead leaves which
covered the ground, and also stealing up the trunk of every dry
tree in its path. A warm current of air was now wafted to my
cheek by the breeze, and I discovered with intense satisfaction
that an immense dead pine which hung over the opposite pre-
cipice (and whose dark form I had noticed distinctly pictured
against the crimson background) had been reached by the flame,
and in another moment it was entirely in a blaze. The excite-
ment which now took possession of my mind was truly painful;
and, as I threw my arms around a small tree, and peered into
the horrible chasm, my whole frame shook with an indescriba-
ble emotion. The magnificent torch directly in front of me
did not seem to he^ve any effect upon the surrounding darkness,
but threw a ruddy and death-like glow upon every object in the
bottom of the gorge. A flock of vultures which were roosting
far down in the ravine were frightened out of their sleep, and
in their dismay, as they attempted to rise, flew against the cliffs
and amongst the trees, until they finally disappeared ; and a
number of bats and other winged creatures were winnowing
their way in every direction. The deep black pools beneath
were enveloped in a more intense blackness, while the foam and
spray of a neighboring fall were made a thousand-fold more
beautiful than before. The vines, and lichens, and mosses



Digitized



by Google



868 THB 7ALLS OF TALLULAH.

seemed to cling more closely than usual to their parent rocks ;
and T?hen an occasional ember fell from its great height &r
down, and still further down into the abyss below, it made me
dizzy and I retreated from my commanding position. In less
than twenty minutes from that time the fire was exhausted, and
the pall of night had settled upon the lately so brilliant chibm,
and no vestige of the marvellous scene remained but an occa-
sional wreath of smoke fading away into the upper air.

During my stay at the Falls of Tallulah I made every effort
to obtain an Indian legend or two connected with them, and it
was my good fortune to hear one which has never yet been
printed. It was originally obtained by the white man who first
discovered the Falls, from the Gherokees, who lived in this re-
gion at the time. It is in substance as follows : Many genera-
tions ago it so happened that several famous hunters, who had
wandered from the West towards what is now the Savannah
river, in search of game, never returned to their camping
grounds. In process of time the curiosity as well as the fears
of the nation were excited, and an effort was made to ascertain
the cause of their singular disappearance. Whereupon a party
of medicine-men were deputed to make a pilgrimage towards
the great river. They were absent a whole moon, and, on re-
turning to their friends, they reported that they had discovered
a dreadful fissure in an unknown part of the country, through
which a mountain torrent took its way with a deafening noise.
They said that it was an exceedingly wild place, and that its
inhabitants were a species of little men and wameuj who dwelt
in the crevices of the rocks and in the grottoes under the
waterfalls. They had attempted by every artifice in their
power to hold a council with the little people, but all in vain ;
and, from the shrieks they frequently uttered, the medicine-
men knew that they were the enemies of the Indian race; and,
therefore, it was concluded in the nation at large that the long
lost hunters had been decoyed to their death in the dreadful
gorge which they called Tallulah. In view of this little legend,
it is worthy of remark that the Cherokee nation, previous to their
departure to the distant West, always avoided the Falls of Tallu-
lah, and were seldom found hunting or fishing in their vicinity.



Digitized



by Google



THE HUNTER OP TALLULAH.



The subject of my present letter is Adam Vandbvbr, " the
Hunter of Tallulah." His fame reached my ears soon after
arriving at this place, and, having obtained a guide, I paid him
a visit at his residence, which is planted directly at the mouth
of Tallulah chasm. He lives in a log-cabin, occupying the
centre of a small valley, through which the Tallulah river winds
its wayward course. It is completely hemmed in on all sides
by wild and abrupt mountains, and one of the most romantic
and beautiful nooks imaginable. Yandever is about sixty
years of age, small in stature, has a weasel face, a small gray
eye, and wears a long white beard. He was born in South
Carolina, spent his early manhood in the wilds of Kentucky,
and the last thirty years of his life in the wilderness of Georgia.
By way of a frolic, he took a part in the Creek war, and is said
to have killed more Indians than any other white man in the
army. In the battle of Ottassee alone, he is reported to have
sent his rifle-ball through the hearts of twenty poor heathen,
merely because they had an undying passion for their native
hills, which they could not bear to leave for an unknown wil-
derness. But Yandever aimed his rifle at the command of his
country, and of course the charge of cold-blooded butchery
does not rest upon his head. He is now living with his third
wife, and claims to be the father of over thirty children^ only
five of whom, however, are living under his roof, the remainder
being dead or scattered over the world. During the summer
months he tills, with his own hand, the few acres of land which



Online Library1847; A tour to the river Saguenay...Philadelphia A summer in the wilderness...New York and PhiladelAdventures in the wilds of the United States and British American provinces → online text (page 31 of 43)