Various spellings have been attributed to this beautiful stream over the years and locals often shorten it to Notchaway Creek. It’s a Muskogee word thought to mean “the place where deer sleep”.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Rivers Creeks & Lakes
As part of the Altamaha Riverkeeper’s ongoing efforts to monitor pollution, I was honored to be able to make an aerial survey of its lower reaches in 2012, culminating in one of my photographs being featured on the front page of the Savannah Morning News. It was a great opportunity that allowed me to really understand the size of the river and its complex ecosystem.
Altamaha River Park & Trestle, Glynn County
Though it is a beautiful wilderness, especially when seen from the air, it’s among Georgia’s most polluted rivers. Georgia Power’s Plant Hatch on the Upper Altamaha in Appling County and Rayonier in Wayne County are the main culprits, but hopefully they will soon work harder to balance jobs and the environment. The jury is still out, but with legal actions being sought by Altamaha Riverkeeper, a cleaner river could be on the horizon.
The wildest stretches of the river can be found in McIntosh County as the river reaches its delta and finally the Atlantic Ocean.
Altamaha River Delta, McIntosh County
As paddle sports gain popularity, it’s not an uncommon sight to see folks out early on South Georgia’s many rivers, taking in the natural beauty of their surroundings.
Since these photos were made during the 2012 Paddle Georgia Altamaha River trip, kayaks and canoes just seem to be getting more popular every year.
These images were made at the Upper Wayne County Landing, a beautiful area of the Atlamaha.
When the fog cleared, this was the view!
Due to the overwhelming response of my first post about Crystal Lake a couple of months ago, I’m sharing these outtakes to round out the July 4th holiday weekend. I think it’s an appropriate tie-in considering that Charlie Daniels played a huge Independence Day concert here in the late 1970s and for many years it was a favorite summer destination for thousands of South Georgians.
The palm trees weren’t natural to the park, but they sure made it feel more like the beach. Of course, water slides were always the favorite attraction for young and old alike.
Lots of people have asked me about the Rampage, which was one of the most popular attractions at Crystal Lake. Here are two shots of this high-speed water slide, one from the lake bed and another from the front.
I believe there were several of these metal mushroom umbrellas on the pavilion side of the lake.
The area known as Varsity Beach was located on the far side of the lake.
It was more natural than the pavilion side and set in a nice stand of oak trees.
Many hope the lake will once again be a family destination, but at this time I think it’s highly unlikely.
Don’t forget to check out these images:
This view shows Coffee County on the left and Telfair County on the right.
This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending a talk about the fiction of Brainard Cheney at the Glennville Public Library. During the 1980s, Stephen Whigham recognized the importance of Cheney’s works set around the Altamaha, Ocmulgee, and Ohoopee Rivers during the late 19th century and has now brought them back into print after decades of obscurity. Lightwood, River Rogue, This is Adam, and Devil’s Elbow recall the lore of the river and the river people long gone from the landscape.
Brainard Cheney was born in Fitzgerald in 1900 and moved to Lumber City by the time he was six years old. Upon the death of his father at age eight, he and his sisters were raised by their mother. He attended the Citadel during his teen years and later, at Vanderbilt was a student of John Crowe Ransom and a roommate of Robert Penn Warren. Ransom and Penn Warren were the best-known members of the Fugitives. From 1925-1942 he worked for the Nashville Banner. (Other contemporaries were Andrew Nelson Lytle, Caroline Gordon, and Allen Tate).He and his wife Frances, herself the author of a widely-used textbook of library science, converted to Catholicism in the 1950s and became close friends of Flannery O’Connor’s. From 1952-1958, Cheney was public relations director for Tennessee Governor Frank Clement. He died in 1990 at the age of 89.
If you’re interested in the history of these rivers or the folklife of the region, I think you’d enjoy these reprints, and Stephen Whigham’s accompanying work, The Lightwood Chronicles: Being the True Story of Brainard Cheney’s Novel Lightwood. I really can’t say enough good things about how lucky we are to have renewed access to these works and the dedication of someone who believes in the literature of his region. It’s not just fiction, it’s the culture of a people nearly as gone as the Creek and the Cherokee…
Much of the land surrounding the upper reaches of the Alapaha River is characterized by sandy soils, dunes and scrub oaks. They’re most often encountered by hunters and fishermen but they’re a magnificent ecosystem, worthy of exploring when you can get access. Several endangered species call these scrublands home.
The Alapaha originates in southern Dooly County and flows southerly through or along the borders of Crisp, Wilcox, Turner, Ben Hill, Irwin, Tift, Berrien, Atkinson, Lanier, Lowndes, and Echols in Georgia and Hamilton County in Florida. The Willacoochee and Alapahoochee Rivers are its two main tributaries. It flows into the Suwanee River 1o miles south of Jasper, Florida.
Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is ubiquitous.
The remains of a weather-damaged oak lie beside the banks of a man-made canal near the river.
The Alapaha isn’t widely known beyond the counties it embraces except by a few kayakers and canoeists, yet it courses 202 miles from its headwaters to its confluence with the Suwanee. Its levels are increasingly strained by modern agricultural practices in a region considered to harbor some of the most productive farmland in the state. It’s particularly important to me as it’s where I first went fishing in a boat with my father as a very young boy. I may be foolish to think so, but I believe people who live near the river will always have a strong desire to protect it.
Historically known as Bone Pond, Crystal Lake was, at least from the late 1930s until its closure, a wildly popular rural recreation spot. It was originally known as Bone Pond, for Willis Bone, who ran a grist mill at the site. Bone has traditionally been vilified in local circles as a Union sympathizer because he harbored a runaway slave on his property, but his great-great-great grandson, Richard Thornton, sheds new light on the story: “His son was a soldier in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The Bones were Creek Indians. Most Creeks did not believe in slavery and traditionally helped runaway slaves”. Thornton also dispelled the long-held local legend that Bone was a Yankee, noting his birthplace was Elbert County, Georgia.
It was historically a pond of normal size but a sinkhole reportedly swallowed the mill and filled the surrounding the area with water. In the recreational era, the water level was fed by numerous underground springs connected to the nearby Alapaha River It’s completely dried up today and is no longer open to the public.I’m not sure who owned it after Willis Bone, but Dr. W. L. Story of Ashburn owned it for a time. Mandy Bryant notes that her “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 sisters sold the property.” The late A. N. Adcock, Jr., of Tifton. who was one of the greatest promoters of tourism in the region, was the owner who expanded and popularized the park. It is now used as a hunting club. The Adcock family has done a great job in regard to its general preservation, as the surrounding hammocks and scrublands are ecologically important habitats. I was fortunate enough to go riding in the woods at Crystal Lake with Mr. Adcock, along with my father and the late Milton Hopkins, in search of a rare bird whose identity I can no longer recall. It was probably around 1989 and even then, at the height of the park’s popularity, Mr. Adcock was deeply interested in preserving the natural history of this special place.
It was a big deal when the park closed, and apparently, it’s been sixteen years. There were times in the past when the lake was known to have dried up but it always naturally regenerated. I expect agricultural strains on the aquifer have rendered that impossible today.
At some point, as the park grew in popularity, the name was changed to Crystal Beach. I can remember a time when there was one of these bumper stickers on nearly every teenager’s vehicle in Ben Hill & Irwin Counties.
A large modern drive-through entrance gate was added in the 1990s. I remember the ticket booth pictured below.
This is the pavilion as it looked in the days when I was visiting Crystal Lake, from the 1970s to 1990s.
And here’s a postcard view of a smaller pavilion in the early 1960s.
And an anonymous snapshot of someone with a 1940s convertible, a “tame” wild boar, and the old wooden pavilion of an earlier era, probably 1930s-1950s. (This came from a Facebook page; I’d appreciate knowing more about it from whomever posted it).
As the postcard view indicates, there was nothing much on the beach in the 1960s, but by the 1970s and 1980s, growing crowds wanted more diverse things to do when spending the day.
I’m sure many people have memories of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers here.
Just past the picnic area and behind the pavilion was the real star attraction, the park’s first large waterslide. Derek Veal, who worked at the park as a teenager, reminded me that it was known as the “Slippery Dip”.
Other waterslides were added as the park expanded.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to see it one more time, but it is NOT publicly accessible nor do I have ability to get anyone access. Trespassing on the property is illegal and is watched closely.
For my first post on Crystal Lake:
Aerial Views of Crystal Lake, 2008
My friend Browne Harper made these shots of the lake in 2008. I’m grateful to him for sharing them with Vanishing South Georgia.
This view shows water in the sinkhole; I didn’t see any when I visited.
Here’s a view of the pavilion and main beach, with the Slippery Dip waterslide in the right background.
This was a newer waterslide which I wasn’t familiar with.
The preceding three photographs are courtesy of Browne Harper. Please do not share them without proper credit to him.
Arriving early at Crooked River, I was met by fog so thick I could hardly see the river. It made for some nice photo-ops, though. After hiking beside the river and its surrounding forest for about an hour, I was rewarded with the view below.
More photos upcoming at http://vanishingcoastalgeorgia.com/
All our Georgia rivers are swollen beyond their banks again and it’s a beautiful sight to me. After witnessing their struggles through so much drought in the recent past, I’m glad to see them as a beacon to people who love the outdoors. I just hope people will continue to understand more about the constant threats of pollution they all face and that a balance between industry and environment must and can be struck.