Toccoa has a rich and meaningful history. As you plan your trip to our beautiful city, you might as well get to know a little bit more about us!
Toccoa Means Beautiful
Founded in the aftermath of the Civil War, the City of Toccoa is named for the Cherokee word for "beautiful," and those of us who live and work here today agree that it is one of the most beautiful places to live in Georgia.
Led by energetic and progressive city and country commissions, the City of Toccoa offers a rich history, beautiful scenery, a low cost of living, a political climate conducive to commercial and industrial development, excellent schooling, a near-perfect climate, and cultural opportunities for people of all ages. Toccoa covers 8.31 square miles, and approximately 8,500 residents call Toccoa home.
The village that was to evolve into Toccoa was laid out in 1873 around an area formerly known as "Dry Pond." It was named for a pool there that was dry nearly year-round and owes its beginning to the railroad and a group of three far-thinking speculators.
The three investors -- Dr. O.M. Doyle of Oconee County, S.C., B.Y. Sage of Atlanta and Thomas Alexander of Atlanta -- anticipated the construction of a new railroad through Dry Pond. They purchased 1,765 acres, had it surveyed into lots, publicized a May 27, 1873, lot sale and brought potential buyers to the village on excursion trains. The City of Toccoa was officially chartered in 1874 and the names of downtown streets reflect the visionary trio; Sage, Doyle, and Alexander streets still crisscross downtown Toccoa today.
Toccoa was originally part of Habersham County, but many local residents thought it was too far and too difficult to cross the mountain to the county seat in Clarkesville. A group of residents launched a drive for a new county and their efforts were rewarded with the creation of Stephens County by an act of the state legislature. The first elected county officers took office on Jan. 1, 1906. Toccoa became the county seat.
A Rich History
Great strides were made in Toccoa-Stephens County during the late 1930s. Capps Cotton Mill was purchased in 1937 by J&P Coats Co. and remained a manufacturing fixture in the county for almost 70 years. Industrialist R.G. LeTourneau opened an earth-moving equipment manufacturing plant in 1938 and the Toccoa Airport was constructed at the end of that year.
World War II had a significant impact on the community. The U.S. army created Camp Toccoa where paratroopers in the army’s new airborne units were trained. The LeTourneau plant churned out earth-moving machines used by the military in all theaters of war. Employment at the plant grew to as many as 2,000 during the war years. LeTourneau’s Lake Louise facility, later known as Georgia Baptist Assembly, was converted to a hospital to treat wounded service personnel. Toccoa continued to prosper after the war. The City of Toccoa installed and began operation of a natural gas system that today stretches from near Elberton all the way to Franklin, NC.
In the late 1960s, the City of Toccoa launched a massive urban redevelopment project of the downtown area. Dilapidated buildings were demolished and city streets reworked to make the downtown area a covered mall shopping area. (In 2007, after more than 35 years in existence, the downtown canopies were demolished and Doyle Street re-opened to traffic.)
The city observed its centennial in 1974 and was named an All-American City in 1976. Tragedy struck the community in 1977 when a dam located on the waters of Toccoa Creek above Toccoa Falls College broke and the ensuing flood claimed 39 lives.
A Great Place to Call Home
Soul singer James Brown, blues singer Ida Cox, actor DeForest Kelley, and Olympic gold medalist Paul Anderson, among others have all called Toccoa home. Welcome to "beautiful" Toccoa. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.