“Let’s go to the waterfall,” one of us would say when we were out of things to do. The waterfall was a special destination when we would get together as kids. That was back in the early 1960’s, when I was ten or twelve years old.

My friends and I spent most of our summers back then wandering the creeks, fields, ponds, and woods. There was a small creek across the street from where I lived as a child. I enjoyed searching for crawdads, frogs, snakes, and other creatures at that creek. I knew every inch of the creek from up on Kemper Road all the way into the next town, where it emptied into Winton Lake. It was an interesting little creek but it could not match the larger stream up past Waycross Road. The reason the Waycross Road stream was a favorite place to visit was because it had a waterfall.

The waterfall was at least fifteen feet across and seven feet high. The best part was that you could walk behind the water as it cascaded over the falls. The air was heavy and moist behind the falls. I can still remember how it filled my lungs with a unique fresh sensation. It’s been more than 45 years since I played at that waterfall but I still think of it once in a while.

It was a beautiful place. The stream and waterfall were surrounded by a thick woods. We kids would explore the woods every time we were there. One time we crossed the stream and headed up and over a large hill, the many birds would take notice of us as they sang their songs. What we found over that hill was an old abandoned orchard. There were several rows of apple trees and several rows of peach trees. Maybe other fruit trees too, I can’t remember. The woods had encroached on the orchard over the years so there were other trees growing there too, but you could still discern the rows of fruit trees. We ate our fill of apples and peaches then headed back to the waterfall. Below the falls we would lift up large flat stones and roll over fallen tree branches, looking for salamanders, snakes, toads, and always hoping to find something interesting.

As I got older I made fewer and fewer trips to the waterfall. Other things took up my time and attention, and seemed more exciting than a waterfall.

One time, about fifteen years ago, I was in the old neighborhood. I drove by our old house. It really hadn’t changed much, the trees were bigger and the rosebushes were gone, but it was pretty much the same. There were people out in the neighboring yards, but I didn’t recognize any of them. Then I headed toward Waycross Road, that’s the road that led to the waterfall. Waycross Road went past the elementary school then dead ended. I figured that I would get out of my car at the dead end and walk the 150 or so yards to the waterfall. I could hardly wait to see it again. I wondered how much different it would look. I turned the car onto Waycross, in just a few minutes I would be at the dead end near the school. I was getting excited, but the excitement turned to disappointment.

Waycross Road was no longer a dead end street, it continued through a subdivision and on past a small shopping center. The woods was no longer there, the abandoned orchard was gone, the stream and waterfall were gone. Houses took the place of trees, and the sound of lawnmowers took the place of singing birds. I wondered if any of the people living in the houses knew what used to be there. In place of the stream was a concrete paved ditch that led runoff water through a very large pipe which ran under Waycross Road. The best that I could tell that large pipe is right where the waterfall was. I was so disappointed. No other children will ever be able to walk behind the falls and smell that thick heavy air, or search for frogs, or eat some fruit from the orchard. It is gone forever.

But I still remember the woods, the orchard, and especially the waterfall. I still remember, and I always will.