Noccalula Falls is a picturesque waterfall that tells a sad story of a forbidden love and its tragic consequences. Known for its 90-foot cascade into the Black Creek Gorge that is located on a 225-acre park in Etowah County, two miles from downtown Gadsden, Alabama, the story tells of a plunging Indian princess who died in the name of love.
According to legend, an Indian princess named Noccalula, who was the daughter of a Cherokee village chief, fell in love with a man from the nearby village. Noccalula’s father did not deem this outsider worthy or wealth enough for his daughter and quickly forbid a marriage. Instead, the Chief arranged for Noccalula to marry the wealthy chief of that nearby village and banished Noccalula’s true love from his village to ensure they would never see each other again. Noccalula was heartbroken by these actions, but would obey her father’s wishes and marry the Chief from the nearby village.
On the day of the wedding as relatives were preparing Noccalula for the upcoming ceremony, she found herself alone and slipped away towards the Falls. Noccalula never had any intentions to marry her father’s choice and long ago decided that she would stay true to the only man she truly loved. Her father and the wedding guest watched in horror as Noccalula sprinted and leaped from the top of the falls and plunged 90 feet to her death. Believing that his actions had driven his daughter to her death, Noccalula’s father proclaimed that the falls would forever be named Noccalula Falls in honor of his daughter who had given her life in the name of love.
Today on the edge of the falls stands a statue of Princess Noccalula. For visitors, it should serve as a reminder of the endearing and unforgiving spirit of love and the consequences that could happen when love is not allowed to follow its proper course.