The Rabun County Historical Society today announced that it has formed a partnership with the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School through which an extensive collection of Tallulah Falls Railroad (TFRR) artifacts will be displayed on a permanent basis in the Society’s downtown Clayton museum. The railroad, which operated from 1897 to 1961 between Cornelia, Ga. and Franklin, N.C., transformed the life and economy of northeast Georgia by opening the region to the outside world.
The TFRR display is part of a larger plan to renovate the museum and organize its exhibits around the major developments and themes that have shaped the history of Rabun County and northeast Georgia. The museum is closed with renovation work now underway.
Through its partnership with Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, the Society will preserve important TFRR artifacts, vintage photos, and models and make them easily accessible to the public. The museums’ exhibit will feature the railroad’s operations, steam engines, legendary wooden trestles, depots and a 12-foot-high semaphore that signaled trains passing the old Dillard station.
The TFRR artifacts were collected by the late Dess Oliver, a longtime industrial arts teacher at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School and founder of the Tallulah Falls Railroad Museum that was operated by the school.
In addition to the TFRR exhibit, the museum’s new format will include exciting displays covering the area’s Cherokee heritage and Rabun County’s founding; the hydroelectric development of the Tallulah and Tugalo Rivers; the logging industry; moonshining; and life in 19th/early 20th century Rabun County. These exhibits will present a vivid and comprehensive history of this region.
A date for opening the renovated museum, which will be marked by a grand opening celebration, will be set in coming months.