The Cherokee Nation controlled the area until they were forcibly removed from the state of Georgia in 1838 during the “Cherokee Trail of Tears.” Describing the falls in 1832, Georgia surveyor William Williamson wrote:
“In the course of my route in the Mountains I discovered a Water Fall perhaps the greatest in the World the most majestic Scene that I have ever witnessed or heard of the Creek passes over the mountain & the fall I think can’t be less than Six hundred Yards. The Mountain is a least three fourths of a mile high. I made great exertions to get on the summit but the ascent was so great that I was completely exhausted by the time I reached half way. My position was such that I had a perfect view of the entire Fall The Steam is Called Um-ma-eolola from the Fall (Sliding Water)”
When the Appalachian Trail was rerouted to end at Springer Mountain the park began to serve as the access point for hikers. From the park, Springer is just over 8 miles using the Southern Terminus Trail.
The land that comprised the falls was so remote that a Cherokee woman living near Amicalola Creek was missed by the Georgia Guard in 1838 as they searched for Cherokee stragglers to force west on the Trail of Tears. She continued living in the area until the late 1840’s.
In 1852 a settler named Bartley Crane built a grist mill near the site of the present-day visitors center. As settlers arrived, a Methodist-Episcopal campground was established near the falls for revivals on December 19, 1860 and was originally designated Ammicalola Camp Ground (note the extra “M”). During The Civil War the area remained in near anarchy until Union troops arrived in 1865.
John Crane, Bartley’s son, continued to run the mill after his father’s death, adding a general store to serve his customers. Eventually, about the turn of the century, he ended the mill but continued the store. In 1940 John Crane sold his property to the state. When Amicalola Falls State Park entered the Georgia park system later that year it had 407 acres and the falls became the centerpiece and namesake of the park.
The Appalachian Trail began on Oglethorpe Mountain near Jasper in 1937. By the early 1950’s the trail had been intersected by roads and commercial development, specifically high-volume chicken houses, were destroying the last few miles of the hike. In 1956 the Appalachian Trail Club in Harper’s Ferry decided to reroute the trail to Springer Mountain, and the state of Georgia agreed to build a long-term parking area for hikers at Amicalola Falls State Park.
Beginning with the addition of Amicalola Lodge in 1991 the state added new hiking trails, upgraded existing trails and redid the visitors center. In 1995 Hurricane Opal did extensive damage to the park, damaging the original overlook at the top of the falls. The park is now one of the most popular in Georgia. Overlooks, trails and a staircase provide access to the stunning waterfall.
Source: Quartarone, Rachel Roberts. “Information About Amicalola Falls in Georgia.”EHow. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2016.