In the uppermost reaches of South Carolina, the clear waters of Lake Jocassee splash against the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a "Blue Wall"
of hills that represent the sharp transition between our Carolina Mountains and Piedmont. Here forested slopes drop in elevation by 2,000 vertical feet in a matter of one to two miles.
This steep forested condition represents the Escarpment's general character throughout its length in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Around Lake Jocassee (from the South Carolina/Georgia line eastward to Jones Gap State Park), however, a series of steep-sided gorges carrying surging mountain rivers and streams down to the Piedmont has cut the generally uniform sloping face of the Escarpment. These gorges together are known as the Jocassee Gorges.
Streams with names such as Saluda, Eastatoe, Laurel Fork, Toxaway, Horsepasture, Bearcamp, Thompson, Whitewater, Devils Fork and Chattooga carved these rugged gorges and produced scenic waterfalls and other natural beauties. These gorges, their streams, and the more than 75 inches of precipitation that occurs here each year make this area unique among
mountain settings in the eastern United States.
The name "Jocassee," according to Native American legend, means "Place of the Lost One." Evocative Indian names echo throughout the Jocassee region, such as Oconee and Eastatoe, both tribes which inhabited the area. The Eastatoees were called the Green Birds and likely received their name from the Carolina parakeet, the only parrot native to eastern North America, a species that became extinct in 1904. The Eastatoe valley was the last site where scientists recorded a sighting of the species in South Carolina.