Sometimes, I just jump in the car and drive to Toccoa Falls to do photography. The falls (186 feet high–34 feet higher than Niagara) is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College, which rests on more than 1,100 acres of mostly woodland. One of the college’s closest neighbors is the National Forest. Usually it is a quiet place to get away, but this was not the case early Monday morning.

At 2:30 am tragedy struck as fire broke out at Gate Cottage—a historical building located on the side of Toccoa Creek at the opening to the gorge that contains the falls. This familiar building had welcomed visitors for nearly seventy years. It also housed the faculty for the college’s school of Counseling. While it was a total loss, college officials have vowed to rebuild it along with a new building that will include classrooms and office space for displaced faculty members.

The fire still smoldered late Tuesday afternoon.

Normally, this building would be filled with visitors browsing through the gift shop and getting ready to walk the short distance to Toccoa Falls.