Monday, November 30, 2009

Falling Spring Falls

Just a few miles down the road from Westvaco (Friday's post) is Falling Spring Falls. This was a surprise to find! I read that this is rare type of fall for Virginia where most falls are cascades and slides.

Information from the Virginia State Parks website:
Located in Alleghany County on the Jackson River, this stream rises from Warm River Cave approximately one mile north. Warm thermal spring water and a cold stream of shallow groundwater mix in the cave before surfacing as Falling Spring Falls. The water is supersaturated with carbonate that forms travertine, a form of limestone, at the base of the waterfall.

Underneath the 80 foot drop from the Falling Spring Falls is an undercut cliff. The constantly wet rock faces within the spray or splash zone of the falling water creates a moist microhabitat called a spray cliff community.

Spray cliff communities on limestone in Virginia are considered rare. This area features 14 bryophyte or moss species.
Informational sign at Falling Spring Falls overlooking the falls. This sign has information about the botany of the falls.
According to the book, “Historical Sketches of the Alleghany Highlands” by Gay Arritt, 82 acres of land including the Falling Spring Falls was granted by King George III of Great Britain to Gabriel Jones in August 1771. In 1780 Thomas Jefferson, as Governor of Virginia, granted the property to Major Thomas Massie.

This site was once visited by Jefferson to survey the falls and he mentions it in his manuscripts “Notes on the State of Virginia” written in 1781.

“The only remarkable cascade in this country is that of the Falling Spring in Augusta,” wrote Jefferson, “…it falls over a rock 200 feet into the valley below.”

From 1914 to 1926 a producer of travertine material, Ohio C. Barber Fertilizer Company, mined fertilizer in Barber, Virginia, now called Falling Spring. In 1927 Falling Spring Lime Company assumed operations until 1941. Mining operations necessitated the relocation of the falls where it now plunges only 80 feet.

Electricity generated from the falls was used to run the lime crushing plant and to operate an electric railway hauling travertine from the mine.

On November 28, 2004, Mead Westvaco donated the Falling Spring Falls and approximately 19 surrounding acres to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Also read somewhere else that the fall is beautiful when frozen. I'll have to see that!


  1. A good shot of a beautiful waterfall - I hope you weren't dangerously close to the edge! Please post a photo of it when frozen, that would be very interesting.
    Three Rivers Daily Photo

  2. A lovely waterfall Tanya. I too would like to see it frozen. An interesting history too.
    In your previous blog I think most of the emissions from the paper factory are harmless steam, except mainly for the unpleasant smell. Did it have that? :-) Dave

  3. superbe cascade, cela donne envie de se mettre dessous (mais l'eau doit être froide)

  4. Hi Three Rivers! There is a very safe spot just for viewing the fall!

    Dave, I didn't know that paper mill emissions were so clean, that's good to know! I don't remember an unpleasant smell at all.

    Olivier, merci beaucoup! :)

  5. Lovely waterfall and very interesting information. I do hope you'll see it frozen — sounds fascinating. Don't forget to take a picture for us!

  6. Fabulous post, Tanya. Isn't it extraordinary to think you were standing where Jefferson might have stood and that over all these decades the waterfall has not changed? I, too, would love to see another shot of this in the dead of winter.

  7. Really pretty. I'd like to see it in the springtime just as the leaves start to bud out.

    The Blue Ridge Gal
    Just Vignettes

  8. Truly beautiful, I bet it would be spectacular frozen.

  9. Absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing this, I've never seen that before.

  10. Tanya, it looks like a great place to see in Virgina. I have missed a whole lot.


  11. This is a great waterfall, Tanya!

  12. Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
    anyhow thanks for the good read!


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