Get to the point!
Tallulah Point Overlook (TPO) offers thousands of visitors annually a free, birds-eye view of Tallulah Gorge almost every day of the year.
Aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas days, TPO makes it a “point” to stay open to serve up jaw-dropping views, plus snacks, pottery, paintings and products by local artists and craftsmen, collectibles, souvenirs — even a cone of freshly dipped ice cream.
“Other than the only free roadside view of Tallulah Gorge, we also offer an experience to our visitors that they don't get at too many other places,” said TPO Owner Mary Beth Hughes. “Because of the age and rich history of our location, we offer an authentic experience of a quintessential Americana ma-and-pa roadside attraction.”
She said, at TPO, visitors “walk back in time to an era when sodas were in glass bottles and toys were powered by a child’s imagination.”
Older visitors are returning to bring their children or grandchildren, while younger visitors are “being exposed to a taste of the past, something that you just don't quite get at a Cracker Barrel,” because, she said, “let's face it, those are metal pre-fab structures that just don't have the vibe, the smells, the character of a truly old store!”
The building at TPO was constructed in the early 1900s by J.E. Harvey, Hughes said. Harvey was a Tallulah Falls businessman instrumental in Georgia Railway & Power Co.’s acquisition of property necessary to construct the Tallulah Gorge dam.
“His business was called ‘Harvey's Famous Outlook’ and it stayed in the Harvey family until his daughter, Miss Gussie Harvey, sold the property to the current owners in the early 1980s,” she said. “They ran Tallulah Point there until 1989, a year after [the Georgia Department of Transportation] opened up the four-lane highway through Tallulah Falls, cutting off the much-needed highway traffic.”
Hughes said the building closed until she and her former husband, Don Bundrick, reopened it in August 1994 with the idea of renting mountain bikes to state park visitors.
“Ten days later with no capital, no business plan and a handshake agreement on the rental, we borrowed $100 off of our credit card, and went to Sam's Club and bought drinks and snacks,” she said.
Hughes said they split profits from sales of merchandise still in the building with the owners, then contacted artist friends to request their work on consignment.
“I still have that handshake agreement with [the owners] and have been told that I am welcome to stay there as long as I want,” she said. “I have a fantastic relationship with them and they have helped me tremendously to succeed.”
In late August, Hughes celebrated TPO’s 24th anniversary.
“We truly had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we quickly learned that if we had the door open, had things that people wanted to buy, that we would make it,” she said.
After looking out at the gorge, visitors can enjoy ice cream and vintage candies, browse locally made jewelry, housewares and Georgia-made jellies, jams, ciders and honey, a children’s section with old-timey toys/games, grab a Tallulah Falls T-shirt and a handful of Hillbilly’s Hot Nuts.
“A little of everything and a lot you will remember,” she said. “… I try to highlight by signage what is locally made, what is made in Georgia and what is made in the U.S.A.”
On its main lookout deck, a wall is dedicated to providing visitors information and a peek at memorabilia/newspaper clippings on the famous high-wire artist Karl Wallenda, founder of The Flying Wallendas, who walked across the gorge in 1970.
“We have had several members of the Wallenda family, including Nik [Karl’s grandson] and one of Karl's daughters, stop by the shop and they are all thrilled about the tribute to their patriarch,” she said. “We are very proud of Karl Wallenda's walk across the gorge and the role that our location played in it.”
Hughes said she thinks TPO is a popular destination because it’s a quick, free, easy way to see the gorge.
“You don't see the falls from our porch, but I think TPO is a great place to start your visit to Tallulah Gorge,” she said. “… I have had several reviews on Google Maps of people saying we are part of their mountain-travels tradition.”
The store is located at 940 Tallulah Gorge Scenic Loop, just off of U.S. Highway 441. For more information, find Tallulah Point Overlook on Facebook.