Photo Vault: Daredevil created spectacle 45 years ago

Credit: Georgia Department of Economic Development

Credit: Georgia Department of Economic Development

As if the natural beauty of Tallulah Falls isn’t breathtaking enough, stunt daredevil Karl Wallenda crossed the Tallulah Gorge on a high wire on July 18, 1970.

Wallenda arrived in the northeast Georgia mountains with a couple of security guards dressed as clowns with red noses and face paint, but he loved to interact with townspeople of Tallulah Falls, about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta, and the thousands of spectators who showed up to watch the event.

> Photo Gallery of Karl Wallenda's high-wire act in Georgia's Tallulah Gorge

While crossing the 1,200-foot expanse with a 750-foot deep chasm, the 65-year-old Wallenda did two headstands out on the wire. The entire spectacle took 19 minutes.

Reportedly, a man named Professor Leon did the same thing back in 1886. There’s no word whether he included headstands.

Fewer than eight years after his 1970 feat, Wallenda fell to his death.

On March 22, 1978, he was attempting to walk a cable strung between two towers on the 10-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. News reports of the day said the wire was improperly supported and winds were blowing and midway through his walk, Wallenda’s attempt to sit on the wire failed and he plunged to his death.

Karl’s great-grandson, Nik Wallenda, announced in February after traversing a 100-foot high tightrope in the Georgia Dome that he’d like to recreate the Tallulah Falls stunt move for move on the 45th anniversary. He had even planned to superimpose Karl’s image against his own — the 1970 stunt was recorded by the BBC — during the live commemorative walk.

“To be able to walk literally in his footsteps is what my life’s about, ” he told the Associated Press.

But Wallenda, 36, said recently that the technology “isn’t there yet — it’s under development, and we’re waiting for that.

“I want this walk to be unique, it’s got to be special. I’ve been taking an age-old art form and making it modern by using a lot of different camera angles and bringing audiences with me on the wire to give them a view they’ve never seen before. And I want this to be right. So it’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when.”

Compared with his nationally televised skywalks at Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and Chicago, Tallulah Gorge looks to be Nik Wallenda’s most dangerous gambit to date.

Rabun County is commemorating the 45th anniversary of Karl Wellenda's event with a week's worth of attractions and events including a meet and greet with Nik Wallenda.


Photo Gallery of Karl Wallenda's high-wire act in Georgia's Tallulah Gorge