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Stephens County Historical Markers

The Old Toccoa Falls Power Plant


  • Source: David Seibert
  • Marker: The Old Toccoa Falls Power Plant
  • Location: Toccoa Falls Visitor Center at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa

THE OLD TOCCOA FALLS POWER PLANT

The Old Toccoa Falls Power Plant is an outstanding example of the early hydroelectric generating facilities that served America’s rural communities. Built in 1899 by E. Palmer Simpson of Toccoa, the plant was franchised in that year by the Toccoa City Council to supply the city and area with electricity. A log dam to provide headwater for the penstock at the rear of the building formed a small lake on the mountain above the plant. the bricks were handmade – swirls of the paddle can be clearly seen – and then brought to the site in wagon loads that took two days each round trip. Water from the penstock spun the 200 kilowatt (266 horsepower) generator, and the electricity was distributed through the old switchboard. The plan was acquired by the Georgia Power Company in 1927; then in 1933 it was given to the Toccoa Falls Institute, which used the power exclusively to furnish all its electrical needs until 1947. At that time, the school returned to Company lines and the plant fell into disrepair. In 1972, the Georgia Power Company and the Institute cooperated in renovating the old plant in order that it can be maintained as a historical site.

Acknowledgment is given to the vision and progressive contributions of Mr. P.S. Arkwright, founder and president of the Georgia Power Company, and to Dr. R.A. Forrest, founder of the Toccoa Falls Institute.