Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021 - 14

OUR BLUE RIDGE TOWNS

WEARING ITS HISTORY LIKE A COMFORTABLE COAT

Toccoa, Georgia:
End of the Blue Ridge Line
Labeled the " Heart of Northeast Georgia, " the little city of Toccoa
knows what it means to be a big-hearted hometown.
By JOAN VANNORSDALL | Photos courtesy MAIN STREET TOCCOA

J

ust outside of Toccoa, Georgia, Currahee Mountain rises 800 feet above surrounding Stephens
County, living up to its Cherokee name meaning
" Stands Alone. " It's the end of the geographic line
for the Blue Ridge, and that fact alone makes the
mountain worth visiting.
But neither Currahee Mountain nor Toccoa
has an end-of-the-line feel. The words that come to
mind are ones like strength, community, and creative
problem-solving. From its singular World War II military history to its numerous famous citizens to its clear
understanding of how to make a mountain town strong,
Toccoa has a unique story with notable chapters.
The Currahee Military Museum in downtown Toccoa draws thousands of visitors each year as the home
of the first (and only) World War II training camp for
paratroopers. Made famous by the HBO series, " Band
of Brothers " (based on Stephen Ambrose's book by the
same title), Camp Toccoa's Parachute Infantry Training Center took in over 18,000 recruits-but only 6,000
made it through to see combat.
Today, Toccoa's Currahee Military Museum draws
thousands of visitors annually.
" It's a unique place, " Director Brenda Carlan says.
" We get a fair number of European visitors because of
the paratroopers' deployment there. And folks from all
branches of the service. People stay a while here, looking
at our memorabilia and photographs and reading the
stories-and some leave with tears in their eyes. "
I'm guessing a fair number of those visitors arrive by
train-the Military Museum (and the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and Historical Society) is located
in the historic restored depot. Where, twice daily, the
Amtrak Crescent arrives in Toccoa, traveling to and from
New Orleans and New York.
A city of 8,300 people. Amtrak service twice a day.
They're doing something right.
In fact, it seems that Toccoa has done a lot right. Its

14

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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021

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