Troy Damron first saw beautiful Toccoa Falls and the campus of the college when he enrolled as a student in 1939. Throughout his life he lived continuously the Toccoa Falls Story as a student, faculty member, and administrator. He is the author of A Tree God Planted, the Story of Toccoa Falls College.
Troy Damron graduated magna cum laude from both Toccoa Falls Institute with a B.A. degree, and from Piedmont College, Demorest, Georgia, with a B.S. degree. He enjoyed a lifelong identification with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and was an ordained minister in that organization.
The following are poems written by Troy Damron.
In pensive mood I walk the narrow trail
Beside the rippling stream within a peaceful vale,
And join in spirit, friends half a world away
Who in this dale embraced God’s better way.
I follow on this trail beside the rushing stream,
And see in limpid pools the finny bream
Glide to and fro within the safety of his bower,
And thank the God who kept me to this hour.
Arrested are the musings of my mind
As I behold this work of God sublime—
A waterfall cascading down on rock and sand,
A scene as yet unspoiled by human hand.
My thoughts race back a thousand years and more
When noble redmen view at first in days of yore
This scene so grand, and hasten to exclaim,
“Toccoa, Toccoa, how worthy art thou of thy name.”
Toccoa in the Cherokee language means beautiful.
THE SPIRIT OF TOCCOA FALLS
An unseen spirit binds my heart
To those who in the past were part
Of one intrinsic whole—
Those who walked along this way
And worked to bring a brighter day,
To give Toccoa Falls a soul.
I sought from whence this spirit came,
That I might designate its name
And comprehend its power.
I found it not in human plan,
Nor even in the work of man
Continued to this hour.
At last upon a common ground
A truth in every age I found
That set these souls apart.
In testings strong and trials great
God never left them to their fate,
But drew them to His heart.
They suffered much, but bore this cross
As one, and shared their mutual loss
Till God in victory came.
They shared their triumph over pain
And, counting every loss a gain,
Gave glory to His name.
You ask me whence this spirit came—
My answer always is the same.
‘Tis God His children calls
To serve Him as they go or wait,
And in such service generate
The spirit of Toccoa Falls.
The abrupt crescendo of a thundering roar
Demolished the quiet of the early hour;
As tons of water, debris, and more
Surged o’er the Falls with awesome power.
Torrents of rain for days on end
Deluged the dam at Barnes Lake;
Till all at once the earth did rend
Cascading floods with deadly wake.
The higher call God gave that day
To children of His both young and old
Foreshadows His plan—a better way
For those in His sheltering fold.
The pain and horror of that awful night
Still lingers in hearts that care;
But faith in God’s eternal right
Overcomes the grief they share.
The healing years have slowly passed,
But with each year in November
We pledge anew while time shall last
We ever shall remember.
(Toccoa Falls flood, Nov. 6, 1977)
BEAUTY FOR ASHES
“Beauty for Ashes” is promised to thee
Spoke the prophet of old to a people not free.
“The oil of joy” for hearts that mourn;
“The garment of praise” for a nation reborn.
Beside the ashes of a smouldering heap
Bent the form of a man—his face lined with grief.
He pondered this loss to a work just begun,
And thought of the battles which yet must be won.
Into his grief-crushed heart shines a brief ray of light;
For a voice speaks to him, like a voice from the night:
“Beauty for Ashes, my child, you shall see
From out of this ruin a God-planted tree.”
From the ashes and dust of old Haddock Inn,
Like the Phoenix of old—a marvel to men,
A tree grows again—reborn from above,
A school with a mission impelled by God’s love.
Toccoa Falls! May your joy ever be
To witness to men at home and o’er sea
Of God’s great love and redemption so free,
Expressed in the fruit of this God-planted tree.
(Isaiah 61:3, where this phrase occurs, was brought to the mind of Dr. R. A. Forrest as he viewed the smoldering embers of Old Haddock Inn—the original Toccoa Falls Institute building which burned in 1913. Poem written Nov. 10, 1971.)
Editor’s note: One of the last things Troy Damron did before his death was to record some of the facts and trivia he knew about Toccoa Falls.
Toccoa Falls Trivia
By Troy Damron
There is a California Coastal Redwood growing on the Toccoa Falls Campus. It is located in the area between the chapel and Forrest Hall and to the right of the walk as you face the men’s dorm.
There is a spot in the creek between the falls and Gate Cottage where the creek appears to flow upstream.
A pine tree is growing out of the bluff to the left of Toccoa Falls. As you face the falls, it appears to be growing upside down. (This is best viewed in the winter after the leaves have fallen off the trees.)
The old 5½” water main that runs from the main tank to the campus is made of boiler flues from the old steam engines that once ran on the Southern Railway.
The bell in the center of campus between LeTourneau Hall and the Williams Chapel building came from the original Presbyterian church building in Toccoa after it burned.
The old athletic field located beside Grace Chapel was once a peach orchard.
The porch on the north side of the Williams Chapel building was once called boys porch and the one on the south side was called girls porch. In the early days of the school, men and women did not enter through the same door. Thus, the boys entered the building from the north and the girls entered from the south.
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