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South Atlantic Water Science Center - Georgia Office

 South Atlantic Water Science Center

1977 Toccoa Flood Photo Album


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The Kelly Barnes Dam, located above the Toccoa Falls Bible College near Toccoa, Georgia, failed in the early morning hours of November 6, 1977. Thirty-nine people died in the resulting flood, which inundated part of the campus including a trailer park.

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Sketch map of lake and college. Aerial view of Kelly Barnes Lake area, looking downstream. Washed out dam is near shadow area near upper edge of picture. Additional outflow occurred at white area near right edge of picture. Same as previous picture with a better view of washed out dam near center of picture.

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Bridge at Hwy 17 downstream side, looking left to right. Both approach embankments were washed out and much debris plugged opening.

Looking upstream from Hwy 17--note highwater line on yellow house.
Toccoa Creek looking across from right bank near Hwy 17.

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Yellow house just upstream from Hwy 17, highwater mark under upstream window. Looking upstream along right bank from yellow house; note high water flag in tree. Looking downstream at yellow house on right bank. Hwy 17 bridge in background.

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Looking upstream at first crossing above Hwy 17. Looking downstream from first crossing; note bridge abutment (foreground) and bridge girders (along right bank). Hwy 17 bridge in background. College bus in mouth of first tributary.

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Looking downstream from just above first tributary. Oxidation pond on left.
Looking downstream along main channel from just above oxidation pond. Looking across at oxidation pond; note scour. This is near upper end of pond where main channel turns a corner around pond.

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Looking right to left at upper end of oxidation pond; note buried auto.
Damaged house trailer and auto at water pipe line. Looking upstream from possible site for critical flow section.

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Looking left to right at trailer park, high velocity area. Note horizontal trees. This is where many deaths occurred.

Garage damaged on right bank of main channel. Concrete-block building was moved off of foundation. Downstream end of foundation on left side of picture.
Same garage and slab as in previous slide. Concrete-block building was moved from its foundation.

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Looking downstream along main channel from natural constriction.

Looking downstream across channel. Grassed areas (center foreground and right foreground) are lawns of homes. Several homes along right bank are gone. Looking downstream. Note building foundations along left bank.

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Looking upstream. Note building foundations. Looking upstream from curve in road toward dorm (tall building, right background) and music building (damaged building on right side).
Looking across left to right from downstream end of dormitory.

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Looking downstream at dormitory--left bank water level was in second floor of dorm. Several students were drowned in the dorm.
Looking upstream. There was a bridge where the people are standing--building was situated to receive major brunt of flood wave. This building is currently (August 2002) a visitors center.

Toccoa Falls.

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Aerial view of Toccoa Bible Institute, flooded dorm near center of picture. Falls near upper center.
Toccoa Falls, looking across--right to left. Note highwater flags in upper left of picture.
Toccoa Falls, looking downstream at brink. Note highwater flags in upper left of picture.
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Kelly Barnes Dam--looking upstream through breach.
Looking upstream through dam breach.
Toccoa Dam -- looking upstream at right abutment.

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Right embankment-- shows pipe, old low dam, silt layers, bolted log (lower left). Note tree root penetration through dam embankment. Close up of right embankment with pipe and old low rock crib dam. Note roots and bolted log.
Kelly Barnes Dam -- looking at downstream end of left abutment -- note highwater line where leaves are washed. Remnants of old low dam near lower center of picture just to the left of rock outcrop.

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Emergency spillway, looking downstream from spillway entrance.
Looking upstream from top of right end of dam -- note silt wash out below reddish area. Reddish area is basically hard pan. Looking upstream into lake area.

Photographs and descriptions courtesy of Vernon B. Sauer, USGS retiree and a member of the Federal Investigative Board that examined the Kelly Barnes Dam failure.

Ground views taken 7 November 1977, aerial views 11 November 1977.

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