Crystal Lake, Irwin County

This postcard image shows the pavilion and beach at Crystal Lake in its early days as a tourist attraction, circa 1964. Well known to locals since the 1860s, Crystal Lake was originally known as Bone Pond, for Willis Bone, an Elbert Countian who ran a grist mill at the site. One of the most infamous stories of Irwin County history relates that Bone, a Union sympathizer, gave refuge to runaway slaves and after one such runaway slave was discovered on the Bone property by Jack Walker, Bone shot and killed the loyal Confederate. After a search party located Walker’s remains, an impromptu “court” was called and Bone was hanged at the nearby county seat of Irwinville.

The lake has now almost completely dried up and is no longer open to the public. Owned by the Adcock Family of Tift County, it is leased as a hunting club today.

The story of Willis Bone was taken from Mark V. Wetherington’s excellent book, Plain Folk’s Fight: The Civil War & Reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2005).

About these ads

40 Comments

Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--

40 responses to “Crystal Lake, Irwin County

  1. Carolyn Ivey

    My relatives were Bussells that lived on Horseshoe Bend in Irwin county. Enjoyed spending time at the lake in the 50s.

  2. Lori Chase Angelisanti

    I grew up spending summers in Tifton with my grandparents and have many memories of Crystal Lake. Jack Walker was my GGgrandfather and I can recall them telling me the stories of his murder there.

    • dave

      I camped, partied, went swimming at Crystal Lake all my life.. I would go exploring on the back roads and find some amazing Native American Artifacts. Morris and Adcock caught me ( I did not see any No Trespassing signs) arrowhead hunting in 1976. They were really cool about what I was doing, So, the said they had a real treat for me to see. Well; they blindfolded me and went way back in the sticks. Left turn, right turn left, right right left right!! They let me check out several Mississippian Mounds that were untouched; especially by me, dammit. I was legal age to drink alcohol. They took me upstairs of the shower and food area and we had a great time swapping lies and drinking Jack and Scotch!! Great Guys!!

  3. Deanna

    I have pictures of the place when it was really popular. Family photos, several of us under the mushrooms.

  4. Mandy Bryant

    My grandfather, Leon Lewis, and Jehu Fletcher owned Crystal Lake for awhile in the 40’s and 50’s. My grandfather died in 1953 and at that time my mother (Athleen Lewis Harp) and her sister (Maudine Lewis Holden) bought Jehu Fletcher’s half. Then the three sister sold the property. I am not sure, but they may have sold to the Story man. I have old photos of the Story family taken at the Lake.

  5. Ray Mann

    I enjoyed a concert there by Earl Scruggs Review, must have been in the late 1970s. Anyone else remember that?

    • Greg Williams

      Ray, I’m not sure about Scruggs but I remember Charlie Daniels one year and Stillwater another year. Wish I had list of all that performed there.

  6. Natalie

    Wonderful memories…its so sad to see this place look this way.

  7. Misty Carelock

    I can remember many wonderful summers at crystal lake as we used to spend a week camping ther every summer. We would back and forth every weekend as well. These picture sadden my heart to see a place that was filled with smiles and laughter be so dark and dead. I would love to see it reopen as it once was. If only my children could experience a place like this.

  8. Pingback: Crystal Lake, Irwin County | Vanishing South Georgia Photographs by Brian Brown

  9. Rule

    I worked at crystal lake starting at age 10 ,by the summer I was 15 I was a life guard… Remeber the Crystal lake rules !!! rule #1 DON’T ATTEMPT TO SWIM THE LAKE ( it is much further than you think) # 2 ALCOHOLIC BEVERSGES ARE NOT ALLOWED!! Please pour that in a cup …. And no matter what someone asked permission to do always tell that you would gladly let them
    But the insurance company won’t allow it!
    What good times we had ….

  10. Larry Tucker

    Growing up in Irwin County, it was the best place to spend a hot Summer Day and to swim. I have lots of fond memories and I regret that some peoples greed for money forced Mr. Adcock to close it. Too many lawsuits over nothing.

  11. melanie h. c. adams

    anyone who ever went swimming at crystal lake, still misses it. my father said he used to go there when in his teens, he was 84 when he passed away 7 years ago. we always spent some time there in the summers. even my kids who are grown now, loved it as kids. i have a picture of my sister, brothers, cousins and i when were quite small swimming there. it was always so much fun.

  12. Hope

    Wow just found this page very disheartening I was at Crystal Lake the day my Mom went into a coma when I got home she passed away Sept 1980 .. I since went back once but only for fishing at the other end of the lake where no swimming was permitted.
    I really am thinking on going there to check it out I know its all gone but still the memories alone would be Great I wish someone could get a hold of it and reopen it I also know why people don’t so much crime these days :0(

  13. erin

    Crystal lake looks like it was a lot of fun many years ago. Just went there today, it is very sad to see. Almost haunted feeling. The lake is all but gone and dried up. The old slides, buildings, life guard chairs are all left behind broken and rotten. To stand back and look at it is like a scarrie movie where the place use to be filled with a lot of fun and laughter. The area is all hunting grounds now.

  14. Ashley

    I wish someone would reopen it I grew up there. A lot of fun memories. I was hoping to be able to take my son there.

  15. I talked to the owner’s who inherited it after Mr.Adcock passed last year.
    They said they would not reopen it because the insurance was weigh to high.I wish someone would buy it from them and reopen it.

    • Who are the owners and how can I contact them? If you don’t mind me asking.

      • The Adcock family did own it, Nancy, but I’m not sure anymore. Since Mr. Adcock died, I’ve heard that it’s been leased by a hunting club.

      • Thanks. I wondered who owned it. I wanted to see how it all looked now. Used to spend every weekend there with either my parent or my friends. I have such wonderful memories from there. I won’t try to go out there sine it is all hunting land now. Thanks so much for responding.

    • Jonathan Merritt

      I would lover to get permission to spend a day there swinging a metal detector. That is a dream of mine

  16. Zoe

    To add to Mr. Moore’s comment, the “strange creature” emptied the lake that day. It was said the swimmers left screaming about the devil coming up out of the lake. Turned out to be the body of a woman wearing a red swimsuit who had apparently drowned a good bit earlier, and gotten hung under one of the platforms. My mom told me that story many years ago… would have happened in the late 50’s or early 60’s, I think. She also pointed out the cycling of Crystal Lake and several large ponds in the area. Every few years Crystal Lake would empty overnight, and others would fill up. Underground rivers and aquifers, oh, my. :)

  17. Kevin Walker

    Jack Walker was my GG grandfathers brother. Or how ever many greats of an uncle it is. Pretty cool.

    • Marti G

      …And Willis Jackson Bone was my GGG grandfather…a minor discrepancy in the account above, at least from my research, but I suppose I will never know the full story…

      • Willis Jackson Bone was my ggg-grandfather also. He was not a Northerner, but from Elbert County. His son was a soldier in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. TheBones were Creek Indians. Most Creeks did not believe in slavery and traditionally helped runaway slaves. However, I was always told that he was hung by a troop of Yankee cavalry because he would not tell where the party that included President Jefferson had gone.

  18. Ray Griffin

    Growing up in Irwin County and having a Grandfather that had a farm near Crystal lake, I spent many happy days at Crystal Lake. During college, I was offered a summer life guard job by Mr. Adcock, but decided to attend summer school. During the late 50s , I actually water skied behind my Uncle’s boat in Crystal Lake. There was always a rumor that there was a possible suction in the middle of the lake that would cause you to drown. I swam every inch of Crystal Lake many times and never experienced any problems. The thought of Crystal Lake brings a smile to my face and gives me many great memories.

    • Melissa Griffin

      Like my father, Ray, I can remember so many summers having fun with friends and family on the “beaches” of Crystal Lake. My teenage years of going to the lake with my classmates from Tift Co High are my fondest memories of growing up. I’ll always cherish my last trip there, June 1986. About to turn Sweet 16 and celebrating with childhood friends! So sad that future generations will miss out on this South GA landmark.

  19. Sarah Kaye Hickox

    Visited Silver Lake while a student at ABAC Good memories.

  20. That’s right where my lifeguard stand was. You know I read all those stories about Bone Lake when I was about in the sixth or 7th grade.
    Glad all my memories of Crystal Lake are good.

  21. I have many wonderful memories from times spent at Crystal Lake. I remember the Fourth of July Fireworks and when camping was allowed…early 80’s. Where is Lake Spivey?

  22. beth anderson

    Oh the memories!!! Crystal Lake and Lake Beatrice
    all summer long when my brother and I were growing
    up. Summers full of fun. Thank you for reminding me of
    those great times!

  23. Robert Deen

    This posting brings back a lot of memories. I had a summer job right after High School with a surveyor. We surveyed that property and followed some blazed tree markings from the mid 1800’s. Also I made a skydive there and landed on the beach. It was jump # 486, made on July 4, 1970. Another posting merntioned, Lake Spivey. I made some jumps onto that beach also.

  24. Ernest (Ernie) Fordham

    My friends and I would go to Crystal Lake now and then in the mid ’50’s during the summer but prefered Lake Beatrice because of the additional recreational facilities. During the ’80’s when the water slides were open my wife & I would drive over from Albany several times a summer with the kids and their friends to enjoy the lake and to picnic. I had heard it was drying up several years ago. Sad.

    • Royce Moore

      There is also the story of the grist mill sinking over night and some stange sightings of a strange creature rising in the middle of the lake. About the time this picture was made, I and a group of college students from South Georgia College went scuba diving in the lake. Since there was supposedly no enrance or exit for the water, we did find what appeared to be the main source of water about 25 feet down on the east side of the lake. Also about the same time there was a lake in Coffee county that formed over night in a farmers field. The farmer drove his tractor over the pasture one day and the lake former via a sink hole the next day. There are several sink holes in the area including one in Crisp county near the town of Arabi.

      • Wendy Marchant Paulk

        I worked there for a time also. Actually I grew up in Irwinville. I lived just up the road from Crystal Lake. I have so many great memories. My family was friends with family that lived there at one time in the 80′s. Do you know anymore about the history? Fascenated. I remember hearing a story about some divers exploring the lake at one time. Supposedly they surfaced very afraid and said they would NEVER go in the lake again. Never would say what they experienced. I miss it. I really wish it would be reopened.

  25. Bill Lanier

    A lot of histroy packed into one picture. These “beach” lakes were popular up until the sixties; many were abandoned during integration. One such was located on the north shore of Lake Spivey. It was revived during the Olympics as a site for beach volleyball, and is now in use by the public.

    • Jerry Hancock

      WOW!!! So cool to find out about the history of this great lake! I grew up in Moultrie, Georgia during the 70s and 80s and no summer was complete without at least 2 camping trips to the GREAT Crystal Lake! That postcard brings back so many great memories (as well as the sting of some BAD sunburns!). I found the recent pictures of the lake HEARTBREAKING… My last great memory of Crystal Lake was when a friend and I got called out on the P.A. for attempting to swim across the lake too close to the mouth of the spring, circa ’87! Good times… I MISS YOU CRYSTAL LAKE!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s