Originally known as the Black Creek Falls, the Legend of Noccalula, as written by Mathilde Bilbro, says that “long ago, on a mountain summit within sight and sound of a rushing waterfall, lived a great Indian chief whose young daughter, Noccalula, was famed far and wide for her beauty and loveliness of character.” Many gallant braves lobbied the old chief for the hand of Noccalula, but only one was favored by the girl’s father, a rich chief of a powerful neighboring tribe, who had much to offer in exchange: wampum, horses, and blankets. Noccalula pleaded that her heart was already given to a young brave from her own tribe.
This young warrior, though noted for his skill and valor, possessed little in worldly goods. The old chief refused to listen and ordered his daughter to make ready for the marriage he had arranged. What was a maiden’s silly fancy compared to many horses, much wampum, and union with another strong tribe? The girl’s lover was driven from the tribe and a marriage agreement was made with the neighboring chief.
The wedding day came and a great feast was prepared. In silence, Noccalula allowed herself to be arrayed in festive wedding robes. Overcome with grief, she quietly slipped away from the merrymakers during the festivities as the soft rhythmical rush of waters called her. For a moment, she stood poised upon the brink of the yawning chasm. One leap, and she took the step that ended her life, depriving not only her husband and greedy father, but her lover, of any hope of stealing her away, her community of all she had to offer, and herself of all that could have been .
Heartbroken, the remorseful father gave the great cascade his daughter’s name. Since that day the waterfall has been called Noccalula.