History of DeSoto Falls Park
Lazy River Cottage’s location has quite the history and we are excited to share a little of that with you. Lazy River Cottage is located on Lot 26 Block J of DeSoto Falls Park subdivision. Yes, you read that right. We are part of a subdivision created in 1926 with big plans by the developers.
The history begins with A.A. Miller, a self educated electrical engineer. Miller built the first hydroelectric dam in north Alabama above DeSoto Falls in 1925. This dam supplied power for Fort Payne, Mentone, Valley Head, Collinsville, and Menlo, GA. The dam was initially built to a height of ten feet and later was raised an additional ten feet to increase the size of the lake for better fishing, swimming, and boating.
A.A. Miller and his business partner Phifer Smith purchased 300 acres of land around the falls and formed the DeSoto Falls Development Company. This tract of land was divided into 266 building lots. The two had plans for a large private resort community of summer cottages, complete with a clubhouse, dance hall, stables, and a tennis court, called DeSoto Falls Park. Below is the plat for their development.
A brochure was made to attract people to the area. The brochure boasted of mild summer temperatures, local railways that reached New York, New Orleans, Mobile, Cincinnati, Washington, Knoxville, Birmingham, Chattanooga, and more, as well as State Highways from Birmingham to Chattanooga and 100 miles of good automobile roads to Atlanta.
One of the pages in the brochure boasted the sports and amusements in the community. Swimming was listed as one of the most enjoyable sports on the mountain, “no summer resort is complete without adequate swimming facilities”. It also highlighted stocked fishing in the lake. My favorite is the pavilion style Dance Hall that would be part of the Club House. After the DeSoto Falls Park community became built up with numerous summer cottages, they had plans to erect stables for riding horses for the convenience of the property owners.
What a grand place DeSoto Falls Park would have been as a luxury summer retreat for people all over the country, were it not for the Great Depression. The Great Depression started in 1929, just three years after DeSoto Falls Park was initially developed, and lasted until the late 1930s. During the Great Depression, the economy prevented further development. In the 1930s most of the land, including the falls, was sold to Alabama Power, who later transferred the land to the State of Alabama for an addition to DeSoto State Park.
Additional information can be found on your next visit to DeSoto Falls Area of DeSoto State Park. The State Park has done a wonderful job explaining and displaying the history of this area.
Lazy River Cottage is built on one of the original lots sold before the Great Depression and was kept in that family for almost 100 years before the family decided to sell the lots in 2017. We also benefit from the “lake” created by the additional 10 feet added to the dam In the 1920s. This “lake” area of Little River in front of Lazy River Cottage is one of the deepest and largest portions of the river.
Much of the land that originally made up DeSoto Falls Park has changed hands numerous times over the past almost 100 years. Most of the land to the left of Hernando Drive (now County Road 613/DeSoto Falls Drive) on the plat was sold in 2021 for the purpose of preservation to be maintained by DeSoto State Park. We are very excited the Lazy River Cottage will be surrounded by state park on two sides now.
You can get an up close view of a print of the DeSoto Falls Park plat from 1926 on your next stay at Lazy River Cottage, located in the loft sleeping area at the top of the stairs.
Although Miller & Smith didn‘t get to see their dream of a luxury summer retreat come to be, the area today is a very special place with some of the same hiking, wildflowers, and water sports they dreamed of people enjoying. We hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse into the history of this special area. It is our desire that you and your family enjoy your time spent at Lazy River Cottage, a little piece of paradise.
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Stay With Us
We would love to host your next mountain getaway to Mentone, AL! Located on Little River by DeSoto Falls, kayak beautiful Little River during your stay at Lazy River Cottage with kayaks provided for guest use. Check out our website at www.littlerivervacay.com for more information about Lazy River Cottage in Mentone, AL, just steps from DeSoto Falls and DeSoto Falls Trailheads.