published Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Tourism group touts Tennessee waterfalls

Bald River Falls is among the 50-plus waterfalls in Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties being promoted this summer by the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association. The group exists to increase tourism business in those counties.
Bald River Falls is among the 50-plus waterfalls in Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties being promoted this summer by the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association. The group exists to increase tourism business in those counties.

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What's so great about watching water fall off a cliff?

Sandy Brewer knows.

"We take them for granted, because we grow up with them," said Brewer, tourism coordinator with the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association. "But talk to someone from the Great Plains and you begin to understand how fascinating they are."

Overhill is a tourism association based in Etowah, Tenn., that serves Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties, the southern half of the Cherokee National Forest.

The association's job is to bring visitors to the mountain counties.

"When Sandy mentioned this, I realized I had been taking them for granted, too," said Linda Caldwell, Overhill executive director.

So, along with the region's other mountain charms, this summer the Overhill Association is promoting the 50 waterfalls within its member counties.

"We have over 50 waterfalls, from 5 feet to 130 feet. Some are as easy to get to as driving up to them. Some can only be seen after a hike," Brewer said.

Some of the better-known ones, she said, include:

• Bald River Falls, a 90-foot waterfall that can be seen from Forest Service Road 210 outside Tellico Plains.

• Benton Falls, a 65-foot drop, in Polk County's Chilhowee Recreation Area.

• Coker Creek Falls, 45 feet, then a series of cascades, in Monroe County.

The thing to remember, Caldwell cautioned, is that waterfalls are slippery and not for climbing.

The opportunity to play in the water is a big draw in the Overhill region. Visitors come from all over to fish mountain streams, boat or sail rivers and lakes, tube the Hiwassee River or raft on the Ocoee.

The dollars they spend on tickets, tackle, meals, lodging and souvenirs are a significant segment of the rural mountain area's economy.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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