The first school Richard and Evelyn Forrest helped to start was in Golden Valley, North Carolina in 1907. However, the location was 17 miles away from the nearest railroad stop, and the roads between it and the school were at times nearly impossible. The Forrests decided to move the school to an area that was more accessible. Their friendship with famed Southern Railway engineer and former Toccoan David Fant provided the right solution. On his daily run between South Carolina and Atlanta, Fant heard that Toccoa businessman E.P. Simpson was planning to sell a rambling mountain inn he owned located near the base of the 186-foot high Toccoa Falls. The asking price of $25,000 was an amount Richard and Evelyn Forrest did not have.
Still, on January 1, 1911, Richard Forrest boarded a train in Atlanta and headed to Toccoa where he saw Haddock Inn for the first time. He immediately knew this was the place God had for the school. The inn, which was once a popular summer resort, had 58 rooms that included a fully operational kitchen, furnished bedrooms, and bathrooms with hot and cold water. Two 750-foot verandas circled the structure. Electricity was supplied by a nearby power plant with water diverted from Toccoa Falls. It was an ideal setting, but there was a problem: Richard Forrest only had $10 in his pocket for a down payment.
"I'll pay you $10," he told E.P. Simpson, "and the Lord and I will owe you the rest - $24,990."
"I can trust the Lord," Simpson responded as he took the $10 bill. In October of that year, the first classes were held in Haddock Inn. Two years later, on March 7, 1913, tragedy struck. The inn burned to the ground in an early morning fire. Very little was saved. However, God gave them a promise: "Beauty for ashes" (Isaiah 61:3). Today, Toccoa Falls College remains a testimony to God, to His promise, and to the faith of Richard and Evelyn Forrest.