Tag Archives: Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia

Radium Springs, Albany

70,000 gallons of water issue from the underground caves at Radium Springs every minute, making it the largest springs in the state. It’s considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia and is located just outside Albany. Over a quarter mile of the underground caves encompassing the springs were mapped by Deloach, Young, and Exley, for the National Speleological Society. Features of the caves have names like Fat Man’s Misery, Mermaid’s Tunnel, Hall of Giants, and Neptune’s Trident. Only the most experienced divers have ever seen these wonders and though rare, permits are occasionally still issued to experts wishing to explore the area. Guy Bryant has shared some nice footage on YouTube.

It was a revered ceremonial site first known as Skywater to Native Americans. After encroachment in the 1830s it came to be known as Blue Springs and was a popular swimming hole with pioneer settlers of Albany and surrounding areas. Standing near the cave entrance/springhead today, one is likely to see numerous fish schooling, including Gulf striped bass which wouldn’t be here without the cool temperature of the springs.

By the early 20th century, its prominence as a commercial recreational site was ensured and developers constructed a restaurant and guest cottages to meet the needs of day trippers who enjoyed bathing in its waters, which were a constant 68 degrees. Traces of radium were found in the water in the 1920s and the name was changed to Radium Springs to reflect this discovery. Mineral springs were all the rage in the era as they were thought to have healing powers and this only added to the popularity of the site.

The Radium Springs Casino was completed in 1927. It rose above terraced stone walls and featured a cavernous dance hall and elegant dining room.

A fire in 1982 and devastating floods in 1994 and 1998 damaged the casino beyond repair. The remaining structure was removed in 2003.

A courtyard stands today on the site of the casino and features interpretive signs detailing the history of Radium Springs.

The stonework surrounding the springs and pool is one of the most significant remaining architectural features of the site.

These features are generally not accessible today, though, as they are beginning to crumble and in serious need of restoration.

This is one of two gazebos that were located along the beach.

The spring run which empties into the Flint River is known as Skywater Creek.

The ruins of the main gazebo are being restored.

They’re located just inside the historic gate. Both structures date to the 1920s, when the casino was constructed. At the peak of the site’s popularity, a nearby golf course was equally popular as the springs and attracted notables, including the great golfer Bobby Jones.

The entrance gate is a monumental Colonial Revival landmark.

It features two ticket booths.

Known today as Radium Springs Gardens, it’s operated by the City of Albany and admission is free. It’s a wonderful green space that everyone should see at least once. Though swimming or fishing is no longer allowed, it’s a wonderful place to unwind.

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Filed under --DOUGHERTY COUNTY GA--, Albany GA

Providence Canyon, Stewart County

Providence Canyon is actually a series of canyons believed to be named for Providence Methodist Church, which still stands near the state park entrance. Also known as the “Little Grand Canyon”, it was formed by erosion in the early 19th century. Pioneer farmers clear cut much of the land and did little to mitigate the effect of rainwater runoff.

The deepest gullies are about 150 feet from rim to floor.

It’s considered one of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders and is one of my favorite parks in Georgia.

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Filed under --STEWART COUNTY GA--

Okefenokee Swamp, Charlton County

okefenokee trail charlton county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

The drive on the Okefenokee Trail (Georgia Highway 177) from Fargo to the entrance of Stephen C. Foster State Park will give an indication that you’re about to be in a real wilderness. There isn’t a sign of civilization for miles.

okefenokee swamp ga stephen c foster state park entrance photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

Practically tame, White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can often be seen grazing near the entrance to the state park.

okefenokee swamp ga white tailed deer photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

Though the swamp had been in a drought for several years when I made these photographs, search and rescue boats were on hand to illustrate the real dangers of getting lost in the swamp.

okefenokee swamp ga dnr search rescue boats photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

The Trembling Earth Nature Trail is the easiest way to see a microcosm of the swamp at the park, though a boat is always best. Fred Deal designed this walkway when he attended Ware Technical school in 1967.

okefenokee swamp boardwalk photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

The boardwalk is always well-maintained. It’s a great place to watch birds. I caught a quick glimpse of this Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus).

okefenokee swamp ga red shouldered hawk photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

The swamp is quite different in the winter, especially in low water.

okefenokee swamp ga cypress stump photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

I’ve always found alligators in abundance in the Okefenokee, but didn’t see a single one on this visit.

okefenokee swamp saw palmetto photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 209

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is ubiquitous. As a native of South Georgia I appreciate its beauty and place in the ecosystem.

okefenokee swamp ga autumn photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

 

 

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Filed under --CLINCH COUNTY GA--, Okefenokee Swamp