Underneath The Lake’s Tranquil Waters Lie Jocassee Memories

Divers have found Attakulla Lodge largely intact in lake's cold waters

A young couple's rented kayak cuts a subtle wake across the calm, emerald waters of Lake Jocassee.

Beneath the leisurely paddling of their oars a pastoral Atlantis rests in an endless sleep.

Debbie Fletcher knows what ghosts haunt the desolate bottom.

As tiny waves wash spring pollen onto the Devil's Fork boat ramp, tears well in her eyes at the thought of what ceased to be more than three decades ago, a casualty of hydroelectricity.

Looking over the water toward the kayakers destined for Double Springs, she can almost see where the Whitewater River once carved Jocassee Valley, a community that provided sustenance for farmers yet to join the Industrial Revolution and, years later, refuge for town and city folk escaping the summer melt.

The Whitewater converged like fingers on a hand with four sibling streams that are lost, now nothing more than an unseen source of pristine reservoir providing scenic mountain recreation and power for progress.
Today, Fletcher has found a measure of peace with her loss, 32 years after Duke Power dammed the valley's rivers to create the Jocassee Hydroelectric Station. Her comfort resides far below the shimmering waters that give way to pitch black night and stirred powdered soil.It is a relic standing three stories high, preserved by the perpetually frigid temperatures of the deep, defying time's merciless erosion of the valley's history.

It is her home. And divers have found it.

Ten years ago, Fletcher swam in Lake Jocassee for the first time. She quickly jumped out, because, she says, "it felt like a graveyard."

Now, a measure of bitterness has been removed from bittersweet memories.

"It's easier to come here now that I've found the house," she says.

Heart of the valley

The Attakulla Lodge was long considered the heart of the Jocassee Valley community, says Fletcher, who spent summers in the lodge her family owned and wrote a history book, "Whippoorwill Farewell: Jocassee Remembered," about the valley.

For half a century, the sprawling wooden lodge operated as a bed-and-breakfast and stood as a beacon for any who desired rest 20 yards from the river's aqua waters.

Fletcher's grandfather closed the lodge to the public in the 1960s, except for friends the family would invite for weeklong summer getaways in the valley.

She spent her adolescence galvanizing memories of the lodge, before 1973 when the dam forced the Whitewater River's waters to flow upstream for the first time.

Fletcher remembers floating downstream atop inner tubes as trout nibbled at her toes; keeping Coca-Colas frosty in the not-cool-but-cold river waters; lying in her bed studying the horizontal slats in the lodge's walls and wondering why they didn't look like the walls in her Columbia home.

The children would bathe in a galvanized tub filled with water heated on the stove, then slide beneath piles of handmade quilts and blankets on cold evenings because the wood stove in the kitchen didn't give off enough heat.

A small bowling alley next door provided entertainment. Its pins had to be reset by hand.

Fletcher's grandfather had bought the lodge in the 1920s from the Whitmires, a preeminent family who first settled the valley as German immigrants. It isn't certain when the Whitmire family built the lodge (presumably sometime in the late 1800s), but it first opened for business in 1904.

The lodge was named after Cherokee Chief Attakullakulla ("Little Carpenter"). He was the father of the famed Princess Jocassee ("Place Of The Lost One"), who, legend has it, drowned herself upon learning of her lover's death.

By the time the Whitmires and other white settlers staked their claim at the turn of the 19th century, the Cherokee natives had been forced deeper into the hills and onward to the Oklahoma plains. The Cherokee lost their land to settlers; the settlers lost their land to water.

A continuous cycle of claims made and yielded.

Deep roots

The Attakulla Lodge was but one piece of Jocassee Valley.

Not far from the lodge, the Victorian-inspired Whitewater Inn provided comfort for travelers before it became Camp Jocassee, a private camp for girls, in the 1920s.

"The population of the valley would triple when the girls would come in, because sometimes they'd have as many as 100 campers," says Claudia Hembree, a descendant of the Whitmires who grew up in the valley until 1957 and wrote, in longhand, "Jocassee Valley," a history of the area.

Summer days in the Jocassee Valley dawdled by.

Not many pictures were taken during the Great Depression, Hembree says, and memories are simple, defined by the placidness of it all. She recalls taking long walks along the river in the early spring as the rare, indigenous Oconee Bell was brave enough to show its petals in the still-cold air.

"It was always a tradition for the kids to take a walk and see who could find the first Oconee Bell bloom," Hembree says.

She holds onto the flower as a symbol of what the valley represented. Like the fickle flower that doesn't like being moved, those few who remained in the valley when Duke Power came weren't eager to leave, she says.

In the 1940s, Duke Power had begun to research building a power station in the neighboring Eastatoee Valley, where Lake Keowee now entertains pontoon boats and lakefront homes, says Shirley Partain, a Duke Power spokeswoman. The valley was flooded in 1965, followed by Jocassee.

The Eastatoee Valley is where Dot Jackson spent her summers. Like Jocassee, it was, Jackson says, a "kind of idyllic place" where farmers lived off the land and had little use for money.

"These people didn't just own, they loved the valley," she says.

Jackson remembers her mother telling her of the story of how she married her father in 1922, 10 years before Jackson was born. Her mother's uncle objected to her mother marrying Jackson's father, because he was seen as stepping on the lower rung of the social ladder. The uncle shot her father.

It would be years before the couple could return to the valley.

Life in both valleys would not last much longer upon their return.

A local surveyor from Clemson had come in to study the feasibility of building dams in both valleys, Hembree says. Life along the Whitewater River always felt temporary, she says, when her father talked of the survey.

"Somewhere in my mind, I knew it was going to happen," she says. "I remember, even as a young child, my dad talking about that survey. He said, 'One of these days they're going to come in here and put a dam on this river, and it's going to be gone forever.'"

Beneath the deep

In preparation for Duke Power's 385-feet high dam, the company bought land, sold the timber and razed everything in its path to remove potential obstructions.

But the Attakulla Lodge was one institution the bulldozers spared. Fletcher says only after the valley flooded did her family agree to sell 20 acres of the land on which the lodge sat. Duke Power couldn't tear down what it didn't own.

As a result, the lodge stood as the waters rose. Unlike visions of water rushing in furiously as depicted in the movie "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?", the valley flooded slowly, allowing the lodge to stay largely intact.

Fletcher didn't watch as the waters rose to create the 7,500-acre lake with 75 miles of shoreline, but she says her Uncle Fred reported seeing from an airplane what looked like the roof of the lodge floating away and shards getting tangled up in trees. As it turns out, that wasn't true. It most likely was the roof of the building that housed the bowling alley.

Two years ago, professional diver Bill Routh called Fletcher in Columbia to ask her about the lodge. Routh, who owns "Off The Wall" charters on Lake Jocassee, had been picking the brains of anyone who researched the valley's history.

Earlier, Routh had found the site of an old cemetery. His group of divers found artificial flowers piled near a tree at the lake bottom, and they spent time during the dives propping up headstones.

They also discovered the stone columns framing the girls camp, as well as a Chinese boat sunk in 65 feet of water, a popular spot for diver training exercises.

Central to Routh's belief that Attakulla could still be standing was the fact that the lodge had a masonry chimney that was anchored in the ground and rose through all three floors. That, he thought, would provide enough support to withstand the tide.

Using GPS data culled by comparing survey maps, Routh took an Aug. 4, 2004, nighttime boat ride to the general area where he thought the lodge might be. Using a remote camera from the boat, he found the lodge and videotaped it, and shortly after gathered his diving buddies to explore the lodge.

Only an incredibly skilled diver can swim down 300 feet. The trip takes 21/2 hours, and only 20 minutes of it is spent actually touring the lodge. The descent is a mere five minutes, but to avoid suffering a deadly case of the bends a diver must ascend slowly over the course of two hours, using a guide line to make sense of which way is up.

What the divers found was a building largely preserved, down to the paint on the handrails. The frigid temperatures and lack of oxygen had helped slow the decomposition process. They had landed on a portion of the lodge's roof.

Fletcher had always regretted not grabbing some piece of her beloved home, even if it were just a doorknob. While swimming around the lodge, a diver, Charles Johnson, pulled loose a wooden panel, a piece of a sidelight that had been mounted next to the front door. He brought it with him to the surface.

It now hangs in Fletcher's dining room.

But there was one other piece missing: a way for Fletcher to connect from above with Attakulla and its eternal resting place.

After years of compiling information, Fletcher had published a book in 2003 that recounts the history of the valley, the lodge and memories of family. The book has been updated to recount Fletcher's underwater reunion with her home.

A month after the first dive, the group headed out again, this time to set a copy of Fletcher's book — sealed in Plexiglas — on the front porch of the lodge.

Attakulla has lost countless memories in the deep where a beloved valley slumbers.

But it has been found.

And memories begin anew.

Published in: on May 6, 2005 at 7:46 pm  Comments (93)  

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  1. hey, i love this sight, i’m the great,great grand son of barak norton. the first white settler of western north carolina. he settled below whiteside mountian.
    ( concidered to be the oldest mountian in the world )
    i love the josassie area, i remember when duke power filled the lake. with the destruction of many of the most beautiful and oldest wild mountian areas in the world.
    it absolutley breaks my heart. i look foward to the day the LORD will restore the earth to it’s origanal beauty.

    • Nathan, Penny is looking for you. jazzdame@gmail.com

    • Nathan…or anyone who knows him, let him know Mary Agnes is trying to find him, contact Penny at Jazzdame@ gmail.com

  2. When I was 17 years old, I went to Camp Jocassee as a camp counselor to teach ballet and tap dancing lessons to the campers. It was my first time away from home and I was as homesick as the campers that first week. Once I settled in, I loved it. I have fond memories of that summer – probably 1967.

    • I was a counselor at Camp Jocassee about 1950. I would dearly love to hear from you. Please respond to me at
      gucciwhippets@gmail.com. I want so much to hear from you to share our memories! Thanks, Sarah

      • My Mom went there. She really loved it. She always spoke of Ludy and Sara. Sure you remember them. She later became a counselor. Her name was Joy Henning.

  3. I was a camper at CampAs a kid from Miami Beach, Florida, it was quite a rural experience for me. My fondest memory of that time was going down to the Whitewater River, which we did every afternoon for Free Swim, and sliding down the slippery rocks in the rapids. It was an idyllic place.

    I also remember the all-camp hikes that we took every evening after dinner, culminating in two end-of-summer hikes, one “into town” and the other up a mountain. The hikes were formative experiences for me.

    Today on a whim I googled Camp Jocassee, having vague ideas about going back to swim in the Whitewater River. It is with great sadness that I discovered the entire area was dammed by a damned power company.

    Too bad. Maybe the lake is now a beautiul place, and maybe I will go and find out.

    • I am searching for other Camp Jocassee campers, just to talk over some old memories. Please respond to me at gucciwhippets@gmail.com. Thanks, Sarah

  4. I went to Camp Jocassee for one summer. We were not affluent. My parents could not afford to send my sister and me to camp without bartering with the camp owners. My dad was a noted photographer, so took all of the photos for the Camp Jocassee ‘annual’. I still have my copy. All of the negatives are now in possession of the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia and are accessible to the public if any of you former campers would like to see them. He also took hundreds of photos of the Jocassee Valley. They, too, are there. The idea of the beloved camp under water is almost more than I can bear. I have fabulous memories of my visit there – the best is the memory of sleeping in a bunk that wasn’t ten feet from the Whitewater River. I’ll never forget the wonderful sound. Also, the river swims in the afternoon were so grand. I can still see about fifty girls, perched on rocks, shaving their legs with shaving cream and those old fashioned razors (double edge blades). I remember the canteen sold some kind of yummy sour chewing gum. My favorite event of all was the hike to Salem. We were all given a Coke upon arrival. What a great place it was….

    • I was a Camp Jocasee counselor about 1950 and am very anxious to hear from others who went there and remember some of the details. Please respond to me at gucciwhippets@gmail.com. Thanks, Sarah

  5. What a treat to hear from other Joacassee campers! I was also from Miami Beach and went there for 5 summers in the mid-late 50’s. I was in several bunks, the last being Bootleg. It was really the best experience, with those two Godbold sisters, Ludy & “Miss Sarah” running it. What a character! I still remember getting caught with a cigarette and getting booted out of the horse show that year. (I came back to win it the following year, though.)

    Things I remember: the evening hikes, playing Blue Moon on the ukelele, the two long hikes – one to Whitewater Falls and the last to Salem, the theme evenings, i.e., storybook night, newspaper night, and, of course, Christmas in July.

    Tennis on those courts made of real clay (and branches), swimming in the lake with leeches(!), washing my hair in the river and, best of all, horseback riding. We’d wait each morning for the list to be read and pray our name was on it, especially when they started doing road trips. No helmuts, of course. Those were great days!

    • Hi. I was a counselor at Camp Jocassee about 1950 and would dearly like to hear from you. Perhaps we know some of the same people. I too was “naughty” and got caught a few times. Please respond to me at gucciwhippets@gmail.com. I would so much like to chat about our wonderful summers at that camp. Thanks. Sarah

      • I remember my mom mention you.
        Joy Henning
        I’ve heard all the stories. She said th we best times there. Loved Ludy!

    • I also lived in Miami Beach and went to Jocassee 1955 & 1956. I had the time of my life. I remember the two sisters who ran the camp. I loved the southern cooking, the rustic atmosphere. I remember bathing and washing my hair in the river, it was freezing
      and exciting! I remember with friends crossing the river to meet the boys I Also remember getting lots of demerits as a result if that.
      I loved the horse back riding and swimming in the lake, and yes there were lots of leeches which they burnt off of us. It didn’t bother me in the least. It was more of a Christian Camp but at least half of the kids were Jewish. We would have services Sat. morning and
      vespers sun. Morning. It was truly a great experience , one which I will never forget!!

      • I was a counselor in 1949, right down near the lake. Greatest time of my life! By the way, we had NO LEECHES then. Too bad it was flooded — broke my heart to see it under water.

        Sarah (Smokey) Seiderman

    • I was a camper in the 1940’s when Ludy and Sarah Godbold were in charge. I learned to swim, ride and do archery. My mother went to school at Winthrop with Ludy Godbold, and I have her university annual with photos of Ludy when she won her Olympic medals! She was incredible!! We swam in the Whitewater river as well as the lake which we shared with leeches. I also went home with my pigtails full of cooties. My aunt went all the way to Greenville to buy Larkspur Lotion so she could get rid of the critters. I was all of ten years old. What golden memories!!!

  6. I remember the rumor about leeches in the lake, but did anyone really ever SEE one? BTW, if you Google Camp Jocassee you’ll run across a diving operation in the area. Seems some divers have been back to the camp (300 ft. under) and located the old stone pillars at the gate.

    • Yes, there were leeches. I was there in the summer of 1956 as “one of the boys”. Bill Verner, Billy Westbury, Jack Dunlap, and me. We would use raw liver to catch the leeches at night, putting them in saltwater to kill them. I never knew one to attach to anyone’s body tho. We used to swim the lake in the early mornings, soap up on the dock, and swim back to shore to rinse off.. fast like to avoid the leeches.. which never bothered up anyway.

      • Yes, the leeches did attach to us; we pulled them from between our toes when we got out of the water. It was really an interesting thing to do for a ten-year-old!!!

    • I was there in the late 1950’s and cannot remember which two years. I think about 1955 and 56. Yes there were leeches and yes they did get on our bodies and we would get out , pull them off and drop them in a glass of salt water…. No big deal- they did not hurt…I stayed 8 weeks both summers and loved the horses so much I missed most of the other programs because I was hanging out at the gate hoping Susan would call my name because somebody did not show up to ride and there was a “free” horse. I stayed in two of the WOODEN Cabins on the River…My sister Janice Lever stayed in Whitewater for 4 weeks both years and went home. You could not pry me away…I still have horses and am now 65 years old. Camp Jocassee was the best two summers of my life. I would love to have a copy of the old Camp Catalog-Mine got thrown out in the trash when my sister got the furniture it was stored in and did not think it was important.

      • I was a counselor at Jocassee about 1950! I would really like to hear from you, just to chat about some of our fabulous times. BTW, there were NO leeches there in 1950. I think they came into the lake from some place….but not in 1950-51. I hope you will respond to me at: gucciwhippets@gmail.com. I have a hard time finding things on Facebook. Thanks, Sarah

  7. Laura, is there any other way to access those photos besides physically going to Columbia, S.C.?

    And yes, we definitely saw the leeches. If one came on us, we just picked it off. It was not a big deal.

    What year were you there? Was Miss Sarah still running the camp, or had she sold it to Walter & his wife (can’t remember their last name)?


    • Walter FOY. I spent two great summers at camp. Too bad it is gone. Pam

  8. Hi Gena –
    I’m glad to know the leech mystery is cleared up! The Foy family ran the camp when I was there but I remember meeting the Godbold sisters.

    The only way that I know of to see the photos is to go to the Caroliniana or order prints unless you could send a request asking that they post some online. Maybe they would do that.

    I was at camp in ’65 and would be happy to send you a photocopy of the yearbook w/pictures of the cabins, etc. Drop me a line at laura166@bellsouth.net so I’ll know where to mail it to. I’m so glad to have run into another camper!

    • Hello! I was a counselor at Jocassee in 1950 or 1951 (and we had NO leeches in those days). I have been looking to hear from other campers and was thrilled to find this page. Unfortunately, I don’t like Facebook, so if you would like to chat, please email me at
      gucciwhippets@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks, Sarah

  9. When I was there around 1960-63 the Foys owned it and Ludy Godbold kept the tennis courts and ran the hiking program, which in my opinion was wonderful. Miss Sarah would visit occasionally and the story was she had a house on the cliff across the river.

    Did you know that Ludy (Lucille) Godbold won the Olympic silver medal in women’s shotput in (I think) 1922? If you google her there islots of interesting info about her and the Godbold family.


    • Hi, I went to Camp Jocassee (from Miami) every summer for 8wks 1959-1964. My heart is warming to see all this info about it. The Foys were loving, caring people who provided a wonderful experience for us. Ludie was a hoot “Knit one, purl two Miss Ludie we love you! Susie (Pinder) Cox

  10. Laura & Ruth, it’s great to hear your experiences. I was there during the summers of ’53-’57. Ludy was in charge of tennis then, I think, along with a counselor named Dawn.

    Miss Sarah was building her house across that little bridge during my last years then. Girls who got in trouble had to carry big rocks to help build it! When I think back, it sounds unbelievable. And we loved it!

    I have googled both Godbold sisters but never found either of them, although I saw lots of other Godbolds. I’ll give it another try.


    • The Godbold sisters are both dead now. They lived in Columbia, SC in a house on Pinebelt roadnot far from Bradley School. They had tennis courts beside their house. Miss Sara taught Gym at Columbia High School on Washington Street in Columbia for many years. When I was at Columbia High School from 1960 to 1964 she was also the feared Hall Monitor.She was a very tall woman and had bowed legs. She demanded respect and got it. I have several High school albums with her picture in it. Miss Ludy taught Physical Education at Columbia College in Columbia for Years and Godbold Hall at Columbia College was named for her. Ludy ran in the Olympics several times and led ALL the hikes at Jocassee. She also was tall and had long legs and it was hard for some girls to keep up with her. Miss Sara ” had some meat on her bones” but Miss Ludy was “tall and Lean”. Miss Sara used to say she would have been the ugliest women in the world if it had not been for Miss Ludy. I do not believe either of them ever married and they lived together.

      • Love your memories of Sara and Ludy. I went to Camp Jocassee probably ’50, ’51, and ’52. They were two unique ladies! It was a great experience!

      • Ludy was six feet tall and really ugly; Sara was also tall, less ugly, but with very bow legs. We knew they were not beautiful, but it did not matter; they challenged us to be active and enjoy it! I will never forget them!!

    • I think I was there some of the years you were. Did you stay in the cabins by the river or were you one of the OLDER girls on the hill?

      • Me and my younger sister stayed in the cabins by the RIVER- Both time Jan was in Whitewater. I was in Keowe(?) and the one next to it.

  11. Maybe we should plan a Camp Jocassee reunion. Does anyone know anything about Mr. and Mrs. Foy? Maybe there’s an old camp roster floating around out there somewhere.

    I remember a story about the Goldbold sisters’ house. Seems they told my dad that in winter time they took everything out, including the toilet, then left w/the door wide opened.

    Do y’all remember kitchen duty and that funny song everybody sang if you put your elbows on the table??

    • I was a camper at Jocassee in ’61-62. I am from Walter and Barbara hometown. I often attend the class reunions and Walter is always there, but Barbara died about three years ago

      • Shary, there would be thousands to contact for a camp reunion. I was a counselor there in either 1949 or 1950 and the camp had already been active for more than 20 years, plus I cannot find a single camper from my years (I’m nearly 80). . We never heard about the Foy family. For us, it was just Sarah and Ludie and we thought they owned the whole place. It was SHOCKING and distressing to me when I Googled it one day recently and found it gone! Covering by a lake!!! What a waste! It broke my heart!!! I would like to go back to the way it was, a long time ago….Sarah

      • I now live in Atlanta and thought Bobbie and Walter were from Quitman? I could never find them. Is there anything still going on about Camp Jocassee. I went 8 wks every summer, from Miami, 1959-1964. Susie (Pinder) Cox

  12. Not that song. But I do remember ones about putting your napkin in your lap, prunes, watermelons, etc. A song for every occasion! And all the other songs we sang at meals…one for each table…Cherokee, Toxaway, Keeowee, Oconee, Seminole, Catawba…We used to put on skits about each table.

    And what about the boys and the doctor that worked there? Someone was always having a fling with each of them.

    And writing letters to ourselves that were delivered six months later?

    Why would the Godbold sisters take everything out of the house during the winter and leave the door wide open? That sounds so strange. Wouldn’t wild animals and birds come in?

    A reunion would be fun…too bad the camp no longer exists (above water, anyway).


  13. I just googled Ludy and found a ton of stuff on her, including a youtube 8 minute video of an interview done with her about the Olympics.

    We used to say, “Knit one, purl two, Ludy, yoo hoo!” I don’t think any of us had any idea of her earlier history. Wow!


  14. I just came across this site by accident. I was one of the “boys” from about 1964-69. I remember Miss Ludy and Miss Sarah, the house on the cliff. We would go and help with maintenance when she came to visit. I was one of the boys that took care of those clay tennis courts, cleaned toilets, set up beds, hauled the bags when you girls showed up on the bus and in the cars with your parents. Hauled the trash, saddled the horses and cleaned the stalls. And yep, probably kissed my first girl at Jocassee. And yes, the leeches where real. I used to “drag” the lake with salt blocks, with the other boys, to keep the leeches away while you girls were taking swimming instruction. I grew up in Quitman, GA with the Foys as second parents to me. Regretably, I have long lost contact with the Foys, but Coach Foy lives in Dublin, GA. I understand that Mrs. Foy, Barbara, passed away some time ago. It may sound silly, but I sing the Jocassee songs to my grandaughters and they think I’m silly. That was a great time of my life. I live in Greenville, SC, not far from Jocassee, and to be honest, have no interest in going to Lake Jocassee. It’s just not the same. Most people around here don’t remember the valley, Whitewater, Keowee, Tugaloo Rivers.

    • Hey Wes – I remember you – I was there around 1961 – 66. I’m in Pendleton, SC…write for The Greenville News. I write a lot about lake jocassee, and occasionally even get to write about my memories of the valley. – – Anna Simon

    • Wesley, It was so good to see your name. I remember you well. I, like you, had no interest in seeing Lake Jocassee or the new camp. Carolyn Moore Hannaford (remember her?) came to see me at our summer home in Cashiers, NC, and going to camp places was on her list of things she wanted to do. So we did. The lake is beautiful but creepy. I don’t think I could put my big toe in it. The new camp looks just the same but sad. I loved reading your comment. All the girls were crezy over you, cute Wesley. Debbie Waters Hooks

  15. I really enjoyed your post. I guess, as one of the campers, I never thought about all the behind the scenes stuff that you and the other people did to make the camp nice and fun for us girls. Do you, by any chance, know what the last year was that the camp was opened?

  16. It was about 1975 or ’76. The first gasoline hikes pretty much put the camp out of business, from what I understand. I appreciate your comment, but believe me, the experience and lessons I learned from those summers with the Foys, and being one of about eight boys in a population of a hundred or so females, of all ages, were unforgetable.

  17. Wes, it was so interesting to hear from one of the “boys.” (I was there in the 50’s, so you’re after my time.)

    I recently found a site on Facebook for Jocassee campers, and back in February, there was a long discussion with about 12 former campers. In fact, there were three discussions, they’re still online, and one of the main chatters was Brenda Foy! It made for interesting reading…you should check it out.

  18. My sister, Sandy and I attended one summer at Camp Jocassee. We were a few days late arriving and that was a difficult transition for me. All the girls my age already had decided on their friends, so I had to “earn” their approval. My memories are very good. My husband and I are traveling to Salem tomorrow and when I today, while talking to my son (age 31) he asked what we were doing tomorrow. I told him we were going to Salem to Lake Jocassee and he broke out in one of the songs about “The chicken at Jocassee”. Proof that Camp Jocassee will live on forever!

    Wes, were you the “good looking” boy that would have met us with luggage. I believe we still have pictures of everyone. My son-in-law grew up in Quitman. My e-mail address is jobethbird@msn.com

  19. I don’t know about “good looking!” More like young and skinny. I was one of the younger boys at camp which made it all the more interesting. Who is your son-in-law? I was born and raised in Quitman, and judging be his age, I may know his parents. I left in 1974, but my Mom still lives there, and I go home as often as possible.

    • My son-in-law is Hamilton McElroy. He lived with his parents at the Presbyterian Homes in Quitman.

      Jo Beth

  20. Hi To All,

    I went to Camp Jocassee for two summers waaaay back in 1965-1966. Had a lot of fun. The first year I was in Cave Cabin and the second year was the one next to it(cannot remember the name, was it Bootleg or something else?) The second year we all thought it really strange that one girl in our cabin actually had driven her own car there!!! Swimming in the river was great, but really cold. The end of the year hike was a bear for sure. Of course I thought I was the best rider there, I even brought my own saddle with me. Does anyone remember a girl by the name of Janene Lane or Joyce(she was from Miami like me). So glad to find this site. Please write back.


    • You had red hair, right? I have a picture of you and me with the horses. We went out there on a Sunday evidentally – we were both wearing white shirts and shorts and took pictures with the horses. Have you been to the Camp Jocassee Facebook page? I can post the photo there if you’d like a copy. – – Anna Simon

    • Hello Suzanne – I went to the camp but don’t remember the years – I am from Miami and my name is Joyce – I am trying to remember all the wonderful times I had back then came across this post. Wonder if you mean me. I was about 10 or 11, I think when I went. Maybe a little younger. Please let me know if you remember more about the Joyce you are talking about.

      • I was a counselor in 1949 or 1950. I loved it then and was shocked and saddened to see it underwater. I was there when the Godbold sisters ran the camp. I can put you in touch with their grandson, Cash Godbold, if you want more info. Sarah “Smokey” Seiderman, La Jolla, California, for many years…..

  21. Oh Boy- Camp Jocassee was two of the best summers of my life. I was there in 1957 and 58 at 12 and 13 years of age. I had the chance to come home at the end of four weeks but would not although my sister always did. Sara and Ludy Godbold ran the camp. Sara taught Gym at Columbia High School in Columbia SC. Ludy Godbold taught physical ed at Columbia College. Godbold Hall is named after her. Miss Sara use to say she would be the ugliest woman if it was not for her sister, Ludy. Miss Ludy looked like a man from the back. She took us on the evening hike after supper Monday – Friday. On Saturdays there was a longer hike. All girls were required to go. On the fourth weekend we hiked to Whitewater Falls and hiked back to camp. On the eighth weekend we hiked to Salem SC and rode back in the back of a pickup truck. In Salem we got Ice Cream cones. They had all kinds of activities (tennis,archey,tumbling,dancing,etc.)and I learned to ride horses there. There were programs to put on and participation was expected (Mandatory?) Miss Susan learned if she saw me at the gate on the dam of the pond and there was a horse available, I wanted to ride. I ALWAYS Wanted to ride. They drew names at Breakfast for the horseback riding and I always wanted my name called. I was younger then and stayed in the cabins right on White Water river across from the lake and fairly close to the barn. The pond was for swimming lessons and cold. Ir had leaches we picked off when we came out and put in jars of salt water to kill them. In the afternoons we walked down to White Water River for free time and could play in the water or sit on the big rocks. The older girls stayed in the cottages up on the hill. The snack bar was only open for a short time after supper and you were hungry enough to eat what ever was served for meals. Miss Ludy and Miss Sara were having the location of their house in the mountain dynamited the summers I was there and we had to go to the cabins when they were doing the dynamiting. I wish I still had the catalog that we had telling about the camp. I am 64 now and still have horses. My Father had filmed us at camp on a 16mm camera and several years ago I gave the University of South Carolina Film Library all of the home movies including the Camp Jocasse footage because of the limited availabily of projectors to veiw them. They are listed under the name Samuel Bernard Lever- Southeastern Film Processing Company. Maybee somebody would be interested in collecting all the still pictures and movies and putting on a DVD for history of Camp Jocassee. I know I would love to see something available.

  22. I went and checked out the facebook page for Camp Jocassee and found a lot of Pictures- mostly in the late 60’s and 70’s. On picture 326 there is a row of cabins that WERE NOT THere when I was. Ifyou look real close behind them you will see a row of WOODEN cabins. That is where I stayed in Keowee. The cabins in the back were entirely made of wood and were built over the riverbank on large timbers extending OVER the river. It was fun to lay in my upper bunk and look thru the screen down into the river. The sounds were awesome coming from the sound of the water on the rocks. I presume when the camp was sold the old cabins were too dangerous to continue using. I also notice on the Horse Show picture that the riding ring had been made shorter. When I was there it went up into the woods a little and circled around back toward the barn. There is also a picture of the Foy”s and Ludy Goldbold in these pictures. I have a Columbia High School Annual with Sara Godbold’s picture in it. I grew up in Columbia, SC which is where they lived. I went to Columia High School from 1960 to 1964 and knew Miss Godbold very well.

  23. What a delightful web site.
    I was a fortunate one of “the boys” at Jocassee in the summer of 1956, my junior year at Columbia High School, where Ms. Sarah Godbold taught. Bill Verner,Billy Westbury, and I were invited to work for the summer. Bill V. was the “horse boy”, Billy W. was the “garbage boy” and I was “water boy”..with each being responsible for our specific duty. There were about ninety girls and three boys, and a “Doctor”, medical student Jack Dunlap. Each morning the “boys” would hit the lake ( it did have leeches and we used raw liver to catch them, salt to take care of them.), soap up, hit the lake and that was the daily bath. Later in the afternoons, the whole camp would retire to the White Water River for swimming and bathing of sorts. When I left the camp early for football practice, the whole group of girls sang “we’re sorry you are going away, we wish that you could stay; we know we will miss you, we wish we could kiss you, we’re sorry you are going away!”
    What a delightful trip back in time.
    Clif Judy

    • Hi Clif, I remember you, Billy Westbury, and someone named Randy. Also Doc Jack Dunlap, and Tommy Godbold. (And Reggie Westbury, from earlier years!) I was there for 5 years, the last being 1957. Several of us in Bootleg had a lot of fun with you guys!

      It was really a special time, and it’s truly heartbreaking that the camp no longer exists.

      Gena (Fishbein) Goldstein

  24. I went to Camp Jocassee in the early ’60’s…so happy to find this site.

  25. Hi Lynne – Yes! I remember you from camp.

    • If there is ever a reunion… I would love to come !!! Lynne’

  26. i have just spent the past 30 min. reading all the posts here and the flood of memories from my time at Camp Jocassee are coming back. I was there the summers of ’66 and ’67 staying in Bootleg both times. I still talk about my days there which are some of the best times I ever had: the train ride to get there, the hikes. the skits, the songs, the friendships, the horses and overnights in the mountains, the boys, the counselors and yes, the Foys. I still am friends with several of the girls I met there and would love to involved in a Jocassee reunion if we could ever pull one off. It would be a hoot.

    • Hello all, I have had such a great time reading your stories about Camp Jocassee. I am an author writing a story about the camp and would love to correspond via email with anyone who wants to share a memory to use in the story …. that is the best way to keep Camp Jocassee alive ….. what a special place and time …thanks so much Debbie Williams

      • I was a counselor at Camp Jocassee in 1947! Things were slightly different than you all have described. Today was the first time I learned about the dam and the lake now covering the camp, and it broke my heart! Does anyone remember the songs? “I want to wake up in the morning, where the rhododendrons grow,” or the billboard song??? I know all the words to this day. I think I had Keowee cabin but am not sure. We had NO LEECHES there, ever, in my time. I would love to tell someone all about the camp at that time. I still have my catalogue! You can contact me at: gucciwhippets@gmail.com, if you want to talk to me about this. I would love to attend a REUNION! I’m almost 79 now but remember everything — the singing, the shows we put on, the horses, the swimming, washing our hair in the river, even the biscuits! etc. !!!!!

  27. Debbie, email me at tracy@mttlaw.com and I can give you my aunt Claudia’s (Whitmire- Hembree) contact information. She wrote a book on Jocassee Valley a few years back and has such great stories to tell!

  28. i really love the small story i read about the girls camp that was flooded yrs ago… i really wish someone would make a movie from this story…….

  29. My 7th great grandfather Cournelius Dougherty came from Ireland, married Amoytoya the second’s daughter lived in Seneca old town on Keowee….. and died there. I wonder if he would have been buried here or perhaps under howell lake.

    • This is to everyone on the list. Would anyone be interested in a reunion of CAMPERS from the 1940’s to the end of the camp as we knew it??? Please contact me at gucciwhippets@gmail.com.

      I have written to Deborah Williams and I will be exchanging many notes, plus my catalog. Is there anyone of my “kids” still on this list? See my message of 5/26 above. I’m almost 79, so my kids would be about six-seven years younger than that.
      Sarah (Smokey) Seiderman


    • When I was there, in 1949 or 1950, we still had wooden cabins with outdoor “wash houses.” They were replaced by cement block cabins after that, with indoor plumbing. There is some confusion between what we called Godbold Hall and what is now referred to as Atakula Lodge. I have been in touch with Cash Godbold and a lady who is going to write a fictional version of life at Camp Jocassee. The greatest shock of my life was finding out that the valley had been flooded and the camp is “gone” now. It broke my heart.
      Counselor “Smokey,” Sarah Seiderman – gucciwhippets@gmail.com

      • there are not but a few of us left remember the old cabins or godbold hall with high roof and pine pole rafters wet snow did it in along with all wooden cabins on the hill except robbins nest the hall was replaced with foy hall much smaller and not so much over the lake my brothers and i were free labor for aunt lucie to get the camp ready for summer my phone is 864 638 6483 or oconee county council 864 718 1024 it wasent that long ago was it

      • Dear Wane: Really enjoyed our chat yesterday. Since we campers and counsellors did not know anything about the valley in the 1949-1950 period, I cannot connect with the shenanigans that went on about the property, other land owners or the dam. All I know is the terrible heart-break I felt when I researched the camp and found that it was all under water! A really important part of my teen years was ERASED and I will never get over the loss.

        I will try to talk with Rook Field and Ester Riffle, if I can locate them.
        Thanks again for reliving, and relieving, some of my misery about the loss of Camp Jocassee. Best wishes, Sarah

  31. Hello All – I was a camper in 1965. My dad, who was a photo-journalist and news reporter for “The State Newspaper” (Columbia, SC) took the photographs for the 1965 camp booklet. The format is a sort of an ‘annual’ which was to be mailed to prospective campers. My copy was slightly damaged by rain water during Hurricane Hugo (1989) when the roof blew off my house here in Summerville, SC. I have just finished scanning the book (36 pages) and intend to put it on the web right after Thanksgiving. I will post the link when I’m finished. Also, my parents saved the letters I wrote to them from camp, so I intend to scan some of those. If you have pictures, comments, letters, etc. that you would like to contribute to a Camp Jocassee website, please email them to me with a note. My email address is laura166@bellsouth.net. My dad knew about the Duke Power Dam and told my sister and me that we would be amongst the last of the campers. I do not know what the final year of operation was, but my heart aches with memories of the lovely valley, the old bridge, the stone pillars, the great Whitewater River, the talent shows, the riding lessons, and wonderful time I had the summer of ’65. Like all of you, I would love to relive it.
    Thanks, in advance, for your contributions!
    Laura Sloan Crosby
    Summerville, SC

    • I was a counselor there in 1949 or 1950 and all I can do is REPEAT ALL THE COMMENTS ABOVE! To the thousands of young girls who went to Camp Jocassee — to see it wiped off the world for the sake of a dam and a lake (which, I believe, did not accomplish its goal of hydro-electricity to a great area) is the most heart-breaking blow. Although I went there nearly 15 years before you did, we had the same experiences and loved our visits. I haven’t heard from anyone in my time at the camp, but I keep trying. Sarah “Smokey” Seiderman

  32. […] Originally Posted by cowboychincs Curious… why a dive to 300 feet? What was at that depth to see or investigate or was it just to reach that depth for fun/experience? Not sure I understand why a need to dive to that depth unless it was for a commercial dive job, etc. Can you explain? Underneath The Lake?s Tranquil Waters Lie Jocassee Memories | A Writer In The Wry […]

    • See:

      • I see they do not allow links. see cnn dot com, then search Jocassee and look for divers find hotel 300 feet down. There is a video of the locating and diving to the old camp building that is still there.

  33. Hello former campers and “Jocassee boys”. My name is Charles Mabry and I was a horse/garbage boy from 1962-1964. My brother Everett was a Jocassee boy from 1958-1960. Other boys there during my time were Hunter New, Sandy Odom, Scotty Barrett, Tom Milner, Tom the Tennis counselor from Valdosta, GA and others that after almost 50 years slip my mind. I met my soul mate at camp in 1963, Prudy Ronan the horse counselor. Prudy was seriously injured in 1965 when a horse ran over her while she was trying to get it untangled. That was my first year at the Air Force Academy and my friends called me and told me she was in the hospital in Greenville having neuro surgery for a subdural hematoma. She came through with flying colors and was back in camp by the end of the summer staying upstairs in the Brown building where she had the most treasured treat at camp, hot showers every night. Four years later we were married at the Air Force Academy chapel and are living happily ever after 44 years later.

    The counselors and boys made fires in the gym at night after lights out. We drank orange sodas at night, snuck in the cupboards and found the cookie stash, and rubbed backs on the benches. Prudy and I have wonderful memories of those times including taking horseback overnights up the mountain and returning in a drenching cloudburst with a lame horse and seven very frightened young girls. We have property in Tamassee, about 10 miles from Lake Jocassee.

    We recently googled Coach Foy and learned that he passed away this summer (June 2013) in Gainesville, FL. The article we read indicated that he moved there from Dublin to live with Brenda.

    It was great to find this blog and remember the special times at Camp Jocassee!

    • Hi Charles and Prudy: I was a counselor at Camp Jocassee about 1949 or 1950. I was extremely disturbed and saddened when I first saw the lake covering MY camp, as I am now 80 and still remember everything about that summer, perhaps the happiest summer of my life! Someone to stay in touch with, if you want, is Cash Godbold….I’ll give you his email if you want it.

      Sarah (Smokey) Seiderman

  34. Love jocassee! So pretty. I’m from Seneca, my dad worked on the dam. I never knew any history till now. This article got me interested in knowing more about where I am from!

    • I went to Camp Jocassee, for 8 weeks every summer, 1959-1964, from Miami, Florida. We boarded the train in Miami + were picked up, by camp staff, from the train station in Seneca, SC. LOVED it + the Directors Walter + Bobbie Foy.

      • I was a counselor, in 1948 or 1949 and it was the greatest time of my life. We had the Godbold sisters and they were great. One of her grandsons, Cash Godbold, sent me my year book and I treasure it.
        It breaks my heart that it is under water!!! Horrible end to a beautiful place and a happy experience.
        Sarah (Smokey) Seiderman

    • Hi, In case anyone is interested, my dad, Eugene B. Sloan, took thousands of photos of the Jocassee Valley in the sixties. He was the photographer for the camp bulletin the year my sister and I were there. All of the photos are at the Univ. of SC, Caroliniana Library. If you would like to see them, or order copies, send an email to the the library. You can make an appointment and someone will show you the pictures. Most are black and white prints but there are color negatives, also. Since all is gone, it’s nice that there is a pictorial record.

      • Miss Ludy was our hike leader. When we went on the river road, we would stop below their house to “knit one,purl two, Miss Sarah, we love you”. Traumatized to have gone in search of camp, many years ago, + arrived at the what is there now.

      • Would love to see. So grateful your Dad did that!

      • Hi Laura,

        You and I must be on the same time clock! I just started thinking about Jocassee this week and wound up corresponding with Cash Godbold.

        Sorry we never connected when we were in Charleston back in ’09. Hope all is well with you.


      • Hi Gena – I hope to see you one of these days! In the meantime, I hope to get to Columbia to look through the collection of photos. I plan to post some on a website devoted to the camp. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do anything! All the carefree fun at Jocassee seems like a faraway dream! Hope all is well with you, too!

  35. […] by Duke Power in 1973, a number 0f structures succumbed to the flooding. Scuba divers will find much to discover in the lake’s deep green […]

  36. Hi Camp Jocassee campers and counselors. I went to Jocassee as a camper and counselor from 1958-1962. Miss Sarah Godbold was my PE teacher at Columbia High School, and I first went to Jocassee the summer after my freshman year. I have many of the same fond memories others have related on this site…evening hikes, “setting up exercises” at the crack of dawn, horseback riding, swimming in the lake with the leeches (yes, they were there!) and in the Whitewater River in the afternoon, being either a loyal Greenbird or Brown Viper, tribe and cabin songs, skit nights, and the Whitewater Falls and Salem hikes. The Foys became camp directors during this period, and Miss Sarah built a house across the river from the camp. Some of us “old” campers would drop off at the end of the evening hike and go sit on her porch and chat awhile. She always gave us a dish of ice cream, and Ludy always pretended she didn’t know we were not with the other campers. Miss Sarah always said she hoped she died first because if Ludy did, then she’d be the ugliest woman in the world. I remember Walt and Bobbye Foy fondly too, and Brenda and Billy. It would be fun to touch base with campers or counselors from that era. I remember many of the names…Linda Solomon, Sue Berlin, Janet Parker, Arlene Silver, Barbara Goldberg, Ann Crenshaw…to name a few. I’ll check and see if there is a Camp Jocassee site on Facebook and hope to find some familiar names there. I’ll always remember the great summers in the beautiful Jocassee valley!

    • I was a counselor about 1949 or 1950 and we had no leeches then. It broke my heart to see the water covering the happiest summer of my life. We did all the same things…..oh, how my heart yearns for those golden days.

      Cash Godbold is still alive (he was one of our “boys” the summer I was there and he has nearly all the old “yearbooks” since 1949. He sent me mine and, before returning the original to him, I made xerox copies of the whole thing for my album.

      Best wishes, Sarah (“Smokey”) Seiderman (now 83 years old)

      • OMG! Can’t believe I found this site. I was at Camp Jocasse for 2 years, ’54 and ’55 and I do believe and remember everything you are mentioning. I lived in Double Springs (cabin mates were Gena Fishbein; Harriet Levine; Linda Hellman, about all I can remember- I’m 75) first year and Hester the 2nd. Remember having to lug
        water in those enameled buckets from the springs across the bridge? It was a long way for water. I sat at Ludy’s table the whole time I was there for dining; I remember the fried chicken on Sunday was yummy. Back then they didn’t serve fake plastic eggs, the food was pretty good. I remember the leeches in the lake; the doctor; does anyone remember Miss Mattie lived in the last cabin by the road going to the river. Remember washing our hair in the river with Prell Shampoo? All you had to do was go under water and presto you were rinsed. My counselors were Betsy someone and Joan St. Jock. Most all of the campers were from Miami, boarded a 2 passenger car train from there and traveled up the East Coast, I lived in Stuart where my sis and I were picked up. It took 2 days to get there; train stopped in Seneca, S.C., had lunch at the Oconee Inn after which were transported by private cars to the camp. I remember the last big hike to Whitewater Falls- 12. mi. rnd. trip I have old pictoral booklet someplace. A reunion would be great.
        Diana Cabre Rose, Umatilla, Fl

  37. Joan St. Jock was in my cabin as a camper; we were about ten years old at the time, around 1945!

    • My Mom went there in the 40s and 50s. Her name is Joycelyn Joy Henning.

  38. What happened to Doc????

    • Those Leeches!!!!!

      Great ice cold water and homemade biscuits!

      Ludy and Sara.

      Riding English horseback.



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