atlanta

My grandniece, Jala Satterwhite is having a great year. It is a year of firsts in many ways. A couple of weeks ago, she flew to Atlanta, Georgia…ALONE!! That in itself had her mom, Susan Griffith, in cringe mode. It was her first time, and that is a really big deal. The trip took Jala from Billings to Denver, and then to Atlanta. The Atlanta airport is one of the largest in the country, and Susan was really a nervous wreck. Jala met her boyfriend, Daylon Clarkson, in Atlanta, and then they spent a couple weeks at his aunt’s lake house in North Carolina. They had a wonderful time. Jala really hasn’t had a chance to travel so far from home alone, and she really enjoyed herself. She got to see lightning bugs and hear some frogs that sound like they must be huge in the evenings. The hummingbirds are huge there, and they look like a small airplane. The kids spent quite a bit of time on a boat there to. You just wouldn’t be at a lake house and not be on the water.

When the time came, way too soon, to head for home, they drove Daylon’s truck back just about a week ago with another one of their friends. They decided to drive straight through, taking turns driving and not stopping at all. Susan was really worried about that part, but these kids are adults now too, so they know the risks. One thing I’ve learned, after taking my own all-night drive with my granddaughter driving the whole way, is that these kids are night owls, and they can somehow get away with that. Nevertheless, I know how Susan feels too. It’s really hard to let your kids “spread their wings” but you have to do it. I think they left last Monday morning and rolled into town Tuesday evening around 7:00pm. it had to have been a really long two days. Pretty crazy kids! At least they made a few “sightseeing” stops on the way back. It gave them a chance to stretch their legs too. I’m sure that made the long drive easier and a lot more pleasant.

Jala is still deciding if she wants to go to college or just learn as she works. Right now, she is working at a dog boarding kennel. She loves working with dogs and is pretty good at it. She seems to have a way with animals of all kinds, although she hasn’t had a lot of time for her beloved horses this year. It’s difficult to fit in lots of time to ride and work full time too, but priorities have to change as life changes, and for Jala, it has been a year full of changes. At this point anyway, it looks like she will continue to live in Powell, which makes her mom very happy. Sometimes a trip away from home serves to make you realize just how much you love your home. Today is Jala’s 20th birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Probably because of the smaller cost of the materials and the ease of transporting material to the site, there are many earthen dams today. I suppose they were properly packed down, and with the addition of vegetation, they seem to hold up well…for the most part. The Toccoa Falls Dam (later known as the Kelly Barnes Dam) was constructed ninety miles north of Atlanta, Georgia. Toccoa is a Cherokee word meaning beautiful. The dam was built across a canyon in 1887, creating a 55-acre lake 180 feet above the Toccoa Creek.

R A Forrest established the Christian and Missionary Alliance College along the creek below the dam in 1911. It is said that he bought the land for the campus from a banker with the only $10 dollars he had to his name, offering God’s word that he would pay the remaining $24,990 of the purchase price later. I guess that the banker either trusted Forrest’s ability to pay the balance, or decided that a Christian college would a good gift to give, whether Forrest was ever able to pay it off or not.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance College had been on the site for 66 years in 1977. On November 5, 1977, a volunteer fireman inspected the dam and found everything in order. A few hours later, in the early morning of November 6, the dam suddenly gave way. With a great roar, water thundered down the canyon and creek, approaching speeds of 120 miles per hour. Still, the residents of the college had no time to evacuate. Within minutes, the entire community was slammed by a wave of water. One woman, a mother of three daughters, managed to hang onto a roof torn from a building. The wave carried her for thousands of feet. She survived, but her three daughters, were among the 39 people who lost their lives in the flood.

The investigation that followed, cited several possible or probable causes for the disaster. The failure of the dam’s slope may have contributed to weakness in the structure, particularly in the heavy rain of the previous four days. The rain swelled Barnes Lake, which normally held 17,859,600 cubic feet of water, to an estimated 27,442,800 cubic feet of water. When the low-level spillway collapsed, it exacerbated the problem. A 1973 photo showed a 12 foot high, 30 foot wide slide had occurred on the downstream face of the dam, which may have also contributed or foreshadowed the dam failure. Basically, the dam was in poor condition and the design was poor and outdated. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

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