After returning from Atlanta over Labor Day weekend, Brian and I had planned to raft the Nantahala, but the weather took a turn for the worst courtesy of Hurricane Gustav and we opted to drive up to Rock Island State Park on the way home. Located just north of McMinnville off Highway 70S, Rock Island is not only the namesake to a State Park, but a small community as well.
Rock Island State Park sits in the Caney Fork River Gorge. It's a very unique place in that its natural wonders are attributable to man. In 1917, the Tennessee Electric Power Company built a hydroelectric plant and dam downstream from the Caney Fork and Collins River. The dam created Great Falls Lake and since the Collins River sits at a higher elevation than the Caney, water drained towards the Caney Fork and created the stunning Twin Falls that are there today. TVA took over the power plant and dam in the 1940s and still continues to operate at Rock Island.
Also located at Rock Island State Park are a historic textile mill from the 1890s and a community spring house that looks like a castle.
My one regret is that I didn't bring my bathing suit. Several people had made the short (but slippery) hike down to the water where they could hop across rocks to some great swimming holes. It looked like so much fun. We even saw where a couple of people had managed to climb up on a lower ledge under the waterfall. I was able to find a perfect spot at the base of a small falls (as seen in the picture below) where I could dip my feet in the cool water and feel the breeze blow across my face. I could have sat there for ages.