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 in 1861 he harbored Tony Young, a runaway slave from nearby Rebecca, on his property. When Judge Walker of Irwin County went to the mill to question Bone about the enslaved man, he found them working some fields on the property. An argument between Bone and the judge ensued and Bone struck and killed the judge with a rock. Bone then buried the judge in a shallow grave near the lake. When Walker didn’t return home, a posse went to find him. They didn’t find Tony Young, but they did recover the body of Judge Walker. Bone denied any involvement, but the posse lynched him almost immediately in a tree beside the mill pond. His family was allowed to leave the county. Years later, Bone’s son stated that after Bone killed Judge Walker, he killed Tony Young and threw his body into the deepest section of the lake.
Mr. Bone’s 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 originally a pond of normal size but a sinkhole reportedly swallowed the mill and filled the surrounding area with water. In the recreational era, the water level was fed by numerous underground springs connected to the nearby Alapaha River, and has risen and fallen at different times throughout its existence. 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 purchased it in the early 1920s. He was the first owner to see the recreational potential of the property. It is believed that much of the mythology surrounding the lake developed at this time. Many locals believed it to be haunted, and that the “Devil” had risen from the “bottomless pit”.
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. Unfortunatley, as of 2015, much of the property has been clearcut.
This property is private and secure; if you go there seeking access you will be asked to leave or removed.
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.
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.
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 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.
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Me & my pops did the roof on the guy’s home that lived out there to keep people out of there.
My pops,(Homer Baldree), walked around the place for a long time & took pictures everywhere & now I think I’m gonna go take another look at those pics.
I would love to do some metal detecting there. Can’t imagine how much jewelry was lost in that sand over the years. i noticed a “Fletcher” name in the history of the lake. Don’t know if there’s any relation, but my grandfather was Cliff Fletcher of Mystic, Ga. I live in McDonough, Ga. just south of Atlanta, but still have family in Mystic and the surrounding areas.
You are almost sure to be related to that Fletcher in one way or another. Fletchers were (are?) prominent there from the earliest pioneer days of that area. You might start your search with the church at Brushy Creek (or something like that) which had Fletchers and a few other families including my kin, Dorminy.
I was reading an article on this that mentioned that Jehu Fletcher owned half of this property at one time. He is my ancestor. My grandmother was Mattie Fletcher.
Willis was one half Creek Indian. He complained to his brother how he was mistreated by the Christian neighbors. His neighbors were racist and coveted his land. A drunken mob hung him after Walker was killed, The mob threatened to kill his children and his wife if the son didn’t confess. They made up a good story to justify their actions. There was never a slave named Tony found.
All Willis’ sons grew up to be ministers. So much for the good ole South.
Hi Deborah. My name is Aubrey Bone. Willis Bone was my Great-Great-Great Grandfather (Willis, Zachery Taylor Bone, Frank Harris Bone, Aubrey Bone, Jimmy Bone, me). I’m 62 years old.
I am extremely proud of my GGG Grandfather and the unpopular position he took during that difficult time in our Nation’s history.
Happy to share more and compare notes on what I know about him, if you have any interest.
BTW, I live in Columbus GA.
Best to you,
Aubrey E. Bone, II
Aubrey, Thanks for getting in touch…I, too, think highly of your ancestor and have done my best to try to correct some of the mythology surrounding him. -Brian Brown
I’ve thought that the bigger story of Unionists in the South would make an interesting topic to cover. It is unfortunate that even today many people have built their own self image around their belief in which side of the conflict their ancestors lay. No wonder it can be a difficult topic to discuss civilly on this or other mediums. In my mind, I see a direct connection between the life of my GGG Grandfather and my life today.
Best to you,
Oh my goodness how awesome to hear from an ancestor of Mr. Bone I would love to hear more
Hi Aubrey, I believe we are cousins. I am also proud of GGG grandfather Willis Jackson Bone and would love to hear what you know. Uncle Joe Bone has shared what he knows. My mothers name was Helen Bone. I can see from the written account that there is misinformation.
“Hi Aubrey, I believe we are cousins. I am also proud of GGG grandfather Willis Jackson Bone and would love to hear what you know. Uncle Joe Bone has shared what he knows. My mothers name was Helen Bone. I can see from the written account that there is misinformation.”
Awesome! always love meeting new relatives, especially on this particular person, Willis Bone. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to ask me specific questions. I’m busy most days and prefer to answer emails in the evening.
Good morning. I did some research on this story years ago but it sorta fell off my plate. Your dad Jimmy was my cousin. Philip and David Bone are my siblings. Taylor Frank, my dad.
An email from this website showed up on my feed today. Sorry for late response but glad to see you are interested in getting better perspective of what actually happened.
yes I know your mom and brothers pretty well, saw your mom at a St Luke childrens day at Callaway back in May and got to catch up. Pls tell your brothers I said hello.
My name is Martha (Glover) Williams. Your parents, Aubrey and Lucille Bone were my uncle and aunt. My grandfather’s name was John M. Bone and my mother’s name was Helen Bone. Willis Bone was my 3X great grandfather, too. I am proud of our 3X great grandfather too! Would love to learn more about him. All I know is what my uncle Joe Bone has managed to learn. He remembers Zachary Taylor Bone – his grandfather.
All the best,
Hey Aunt, this is Brittany. This is random, but Christopher, Violet and Nash are asleep and something I watched on one of my shows made me think of the Creek Indians and Willis Bone. I looked up the article and saw your reply and that it was you! I did not realize how much Creek Native American is in dad’s and y’all’s side of the family. I’ve been trying to trace back because it’s fascinating. So Frank Harris Bone is yours and Dad’s (David P. Bone’s) G Granfather and my great great grandfather? I’m trying to trace this back and keep it all straight. One time a while back I traced it to Fraces Marion but that has to be a mistake. Then another time I traced it to Mahala Bone. I’m all over the place. Mom always said she had a lot of Native American on her side of the family but I can’t trace past Opal’s mom, Anita because they grew up in the hollars and were buried there with zero documentation and records it seems. I need to just call you and ask you about it. Seeing the replies is interesting and may help me to trace back.
Sorry Brittany. I did not see this message until today! There is someone who can help. I believe he’s still in McDonough, Ga. He’s a cousin I believe. His name is Richard Thornton. If you’re interested let’s set an appointment to talk to him. It will be an interesting trip. Let me know and I’ll set this up.
Man does this bring back great memories.spent a lot of summer weekends here and loved every one.
Went there once with our church. Must have been in the 80’s. Had a great time. Lots of people there.
we had a great time for years here .
After a Saturday visit to Crystal (Lake) in June? 1983, my wife, her sister and I were leaving out the long drive and noticed cars backed up, blocked from the entrance. After several minutes we noticed a uniformed man walking with a rifle or shotgun looking inside the blocked cars. As he neared my car, I saw other people running towards him shouting his name, “George,” and “get down.” When “George” made it to my car, he looked through my window, I noticed that his face was bloody. Someone finally opened the gate at the public road and as we left, numerous Deputy cars were arriving. I watched the WALB news later that evening where a story was mentioned about the event.
Im Bud Barnhardt.I was there that night.There was a concert and a big braul broke out and George happen to get hit pretty hard.I miss Crystal lake and i was good friends with Mr Adcocks nephew Jay.We went back in the woods near the river and enjoyed riding jeeps and swimming in the blue hole.Me and Leonard morris son were friends back then to.Leonard and Mr adcock were partners on behalf of the lake back in the early 80s,but unfortunately john morris leonards son took his life around 2011,or somewhere there about. Me,john and jay enjoyed ourselves around the lake and have alot of good memories. Miss Crystal lake.
Our church group use to come here in the 90s. It was so fun and really enjoyed myself. I don’t know why they closed this place. I wish they will come together and reopen it..
My dad T Wiley Fletcher carried mail to and from Irwinville from about 1930 to 1950. He knew everyone. All 8 of his sons carried the mail too. I remember Chrystal Lake from about 6 yrs old 1930. The road was soft sand. I remember our pushing the truck often out of the sand. My dad and Mr Lewis were good friends. They would talk for hrs. Jehu Fletchet was a distant cousin. The pavilion stood on giant log posts and was 2 floors. I remember looking up at the coins in the jackpot window. I joined USAFJul 47. I graduated in 47 fro. FITZ Hi. 25 yrs in USAF.Crystal Lake was a big part 0f my life.
The real reason why Crystal Lake finally dried up and closed is almost an urban legend type situation around here. I have heard at least 5 different reasons that all the water went away, ranging from government conspiracy to the more popular “it just dried up.” Really wish something like this was still open.
I heard it was too polluted from all the swimmers using it as a giant toilet and also heard the owners were sued after a young child drowned there.
Back in the 90s when our church went one of our church members drowned. I always heard of ppl drowning out there.
This is very interesting as my maiden name is Bone and Willis Bone is my ancestor. My father has an article about Willis Bone and many ancestors.
Bone was an anti-confederate guerilla, one of many in the area. The area south/west of the Ocmulgee River was soundly anti-confederate by 1864. To the point that the Confederate Soldiers who crossed to the South/West side of that river did so at great peril.
Around April 1865, Willis Bone was hung on the property for the murder of Jack Walker, a local planter. Walker was trying to capture a runaway slave on the Bone property name Toney, when Willis shot him. When his body was found by confederate regulators, it showed that Walker had been buried alive. Bone’s last words were allegedly “Take Warning from me and don’t come to what I have.” Immediately after the hanging, regulators made the Bone family leave the county.
Source: Mark V. Wetherington. Plain Folk’s Fight: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia.The University of North Carolina Press (20 Jan. 2011).
My mother, Mary Elle McDonald-Tucker took me all the time and she even parachuted onto the beach there in the early 70’s.
Did you ever hear of Jimmy Davis flying over the lake, he dipped his wings over the water, but was too close and it pulled him under and he drowned? I don’t recall when it happened, but let me guess probably 1970’s?
Alice, this didn’t happen at Crystal Lake. He, Jimmy crashed in Holiday Beach. A lake near Douglas, Ga.
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Where exactly is this at? Can anyone just ride by or ask for permission to see it?
No you can’t drive by. ITs locked up tight lots of gates/security and I was told due to bacteria and stuff that’s that the reason it closed. I have a Lotta great memories here!
One other feature there was a narrow paved runway that was probably about 1800’ long. As I recall no one came out to collect the entry fee after we landed.
That’s because entrance was free if you flew in. It was Adcock’s policy.
My great great grandfather , Julius Erasmus Porter, owned it for a while and he is buried under an oak tree on the property.
I grew up in Irwin Co. in the 50s and went to Crystal Lake often.I had heard many rumors about how the Lake was formed. Does anyone have more information on the circumstances about the grist mill, any survivors or how many perished etc. ?
I got one of the worst ear infections ever from going in the water in the late 60’s. I remember it being a lovely location, thanks for the memories.
Thank you Brian for your site and efforts to preserve history. I do love history and especially photos of. With that said, my grandfather Emmett Clements was an excellent swimmer and diver for the local area and would help retrieve the drowned. Here’s a picture of him on Coleman Pond just a few miles away from Crystal Lake.
I’ll post pic later when I figure it out. Save comment till later. Thanks.
Fitzgerald High School senior skip day, 1988. Too much hunch punch and a blistering sunburn as I recall. Youth, as they say, is wasted on the young.
I enjoyed reading this post and appreciate you giving the history of Crystal Lake. My family made the trip on at least four occasions. The first time I saw the lake I was amazed. Our daughter, Leslie, really enjoyed the slides and just having fun in the lake. We lost her in May of 2015. Her daughters would have enjoyed Crystal Beach.
I am very sorry that you had to experience losing your daughter, Jimmy. I hope that your trips to Crystal Lake with her were part of many wonderful experiences that reside permanently with you.
My grand parents used to go fishing there as far back as the forties. It was more of a fish camp back then. I spent many happy days scuba diving there in the 80’s and 90’s.
Enjoyed many Sundays there with my family as a kid. Dad would always get drunk and Mom would always get mad. No slides at the time tho. Returned as an adult in 1982. Elton John was always playing on the juke box in the pool tables area. Great memories. Sad its all gone.
I used to hike the area around Crystal Lake. I want to do so again. Crystal Lake is the most beautiful and enchanting area to hike for one day or more if it is ok to camp responsibly and treat her with respect. Can any one help me to contact the current owner of this land? sincerely, David Chalfant,
Try contacting Adcock Pecans in Tifton, GA,
I’d like to go with you David, like the old days.
Hey David, I spent many hours at Crystal Lake as well, I have many fond memories of it. A.N. Adcock was the last owner I know of, He was a friend of my Dad’s. But that was a long time ago. My uncle Joe Carson had a stake in it for awhile, but I don’t know how long, He was out of it when he died in the late 60’s. It’s a shame it dried up.
Wow ! I remember skipping school in high school at Turner Co High in 1972 and spending day there with fellow delinquents
I remember travelling to Crystal Lake from Tifton during the summer around the early 80s…there was a section of the Lake blocked off. The story was that a diver had been sent down to investigate the hole that had developed…and he was sucked down by an underground river. Urban Legend…maybe. We always had a great time at the Lake.
I’ll always remember this place I loved it she one year they had fire works on the 4th of July it was the place to go in my day if I wasn’t at lake Beatrice with pappa Eli I was at crystal lake. I’m 53 now and don’t have to much time left .i would love and give anything to visit it one last time.before my time is up.id like to just walk the old beach one more time.and look at the old slides and the old pavillion buildings.i wonder if anybody changed the inside of the buildings any oh well who ever is in charge of this site I thank you for the memories of these pics it brought back emotional feelings for me I will never forget the time I saved a young girls life their one summer. Again thank you for bringing back some good memories for me thank you
We used to go there quite a bit when I was in my early teens. One Ssturday ,while we were picnicking, someone built a small fire pit. They lightly covered it up with sand when they were done cooking. My parents called for us to come up and eat. Needless to say I ran right through those hot coals not knowing they were there. Couldnt walk on my feet for two weeks due to my feet being burned. Sure did mess up my day!!! Loved Crystal Lake though.
Jehu Fletcher was my Uncle. I didn’t know that he was part owner in Crystal Lake in the early days. I shared this post with my Dad, Billy Joe Gay who was born and raised in Irwinville, GA and he just gave me some history lessons on my family. I enjoy learning more about my family.
Wow….So many memories for so many families. My family vacationed there many times in my youth years. Who really remembers Crystal Lake. Stay with me for a minute. Mr. George, the old man that pretty much overseen the entire place…? How about the trollie that would come around every hour, pick you up and drop you off whenver you pulled the rope to ring the bell.My first experience on a paddle boat, who else? I remeber when you couldnt always stay over night. Anybody there at the time of that small tornado? How about all the 5 gallon buckets for trash can? My grandfather and I used to empty one out, throw crumbled bread in it, dip in knee deep water, yank up about 50 fish in 5 seconds or less. How about swimming under t he docks and seeing the giant bass everywhere that would just swim right by you. I have several pictures I will go through to post. Did anybody ever go fishing in the ponds not far off back in the woods. You missed out. Some of the best fishing. Some many memories…
It would make a killer dirt track for racing!
It would be nice to just have “something” there to do. Many of us would love to just go there for the memories. From the looks of the pictures it’s still really beautiful. They could block off the unsafe areas and come up with something.
It would make a killer track for dirt track racing!
I 19ew going to Crystal Lake. I seem to remember a wooden building there.musthave been about 5 years old the first time I remember going, mostly because my mom had bought me a pair of red shorts and a matching top. (the things we do remember). We went every year. I met my husband, Ron, there in the spring of 1966. We married in the fall of 1966. There wasn’t so much “junk” around the edges of the lake at that time. I think they went overboard in adding so much stuff. The more stuff you add to a place the more ways kids have to get hurt. It is a crying shame that parents aren’t held responsible for their kids behavior. People seem to think it is ok to just let their kids run wild and do whatever they want, then when a child gets hurt , sometimes very badly, they want to sue, sue, sue. Oh, for the days when parents made their kids behave, The kids respected other people and their belongings. I know how hard it is to keep up with kids. I raised 3 very active boys. all you have to do is blink your eyes and one can be missing. I would love to see the place open again but not as a monstrosity that it became. My oldest son is the only one who has ever been to Crystal Lake. (Sorry, that is the only name that sounds right)
I enjoyed a visit with a high school sweet heart in 91 and had a blast. I am from north of Atlanta and my kids and i were looking in to a visit.. Sadly that will not happen. Seein i just learned it closed many years ago.
I almost died there one time being wrong but I enjoyed the place when it was open I hate it closed that will be something to do for this summer hope it open back up dang I Miss Crystal Beach
My parents, Gene and Judy Grigsby use to go there a lot. Then I enjoyed it myself.
Thank you for sharing the pictures of Crystal Beach. U would love to get permission just for my husband and I to go out there and walk around the dried up pond , just for the memories of days gone by. If you can arrange this privately we are Danny and Arlene Chaney and we are in the phone book it you can private message me on FB .
Once again thank you for the pictures and more history .
This park was fun.. But I almost drowned on the twisted slide…
Use to take my son and all the rest of our family 👪 would head over there from Bainbridge and Albany. Had many birthdays and family get-togethers at Crystal Lake. It was a great place with many fond memories!😊 That was in the 80’s. Wish Vanishing Georgia would do an article on Yates Springs in Bainbridge Georgia. It was also a great family spot in the 60’s and 70’s!😎
Would love to help with developing the restoration of this! I’m sure if the owners are up to it, they could start a “Go Fund Me” to bring it back to life! Bigger and better! Cabin rentals, swimming pools, all of that! From reading the comments, I’m sure people would contribute!
Didn’t you read the part where they said there are some rare birds living in the surrounding wetlands? They said the current owner is dedicated to preservation, and I’m not sure bringing an influx of thousands of people a month will help.
I would donate on a go me fund. That’s a great idea. I used to love Crystal Lake. That was a big teen hang out in my younger days.
This would be great!!! Was the best place to go as a child. Im 53 now i remember going when i wss very small until i was in my 20s. Todays kids dont have memories like ours. Just good ole fun!! I pray someone will reopen one day. I definitely will be taking my grandson every chance i get!!!
I visited Chrystal Lake many times in my teen age years… What a thriving, wonderful place it was in it’s day.. as with many other places in South Ga….Jay bird Springs, Red Bluff both near the Ocmulgee River and The Rocks, near Pridgen Ga. which is totally off limits now… It is truly a shame the things this younger generation will never experience…
My family are from Ocilla and Mystic GA so a large portion of my child hood memories included this wonderful place! Sad to see it closed and run down! Maybe one day in our lifetime we will see it reopened! I would love to take my kids or future grandchildren to a place that filled my childhood with great memories!
-James C. Ritch
Me and my family went every summer to celebrate my children’s birthday. Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs had the best time! Such great memories. Saddens me to see these photos but at the same time brings back happy thoughts.
I loved this place. As teenager I lived within 1 mile and still do. Most summer weekends were spent there, walking thru trails, laying on the docks and having fun with friends. Mr. A. N. Adcock was a fine fellow and wanted everyone to have a great time. The best part was the weekends we had concerts and everyone stayed in campers and tents. Charlie Daniels came one weekend and people came in from everywhere.
I grew up at that park. My grandfather Mr.Clifford Hogan was a pastor at ARP Baptist Church. We lived in Nashville GA.an spent most summer weekends there. What a loss of such a beautiful place to spend time with family an friends.
Enjoyed coming here as a kid. It was like our summer family tradition. We’d loaded up my uncle’s truck and head out. So sad to see such a fun place closed.
I remember Crystal lake. My family and I would go here every labor day weekend. Growing up I thought this was the only beach in the world. I so remember slippery dip. I loved this park this is as close to a summer vacation my family ever went on.
When will crystal beach be back opened it was a nice place 2 go with family?
I loved this place we had so much fun there miss it
Interesting story, I grew up in Ware Co. And never made to Crystal Beach.
Sad just sad
Enjoyed reading this. Would like a copy to share with family. We spent a lot of week ends here. Sharing good times with friends and family.
What a shame my family and children really enjoyed this place and we have lost so many and then we wonder why the children get on trouble nowadays maybe we need small town America back in our lives and less Wal-Marts and sixflags and sure not SeaWorld
My thoughts exactly!
Oh my! Some of my fondest memories were here! Fourth of July, church youth group trips, endless summer days! I hate to see it as it is now. So sad. I remember going into the pavilion and getting cokes and snacks and hearing the juke box playing! The fish nibbling my legs when we swam. Swimming out to the floating docks. Walking as far around the lake as we could…… On and on and on. Great times!
I live not too far from there and pass by the entrance road sometimes. Then I smile and tell my kids (now I’m telling my grands) a tale about it! Glad I found this.
I was raised going there. All the concerts an good time there. It’s bad when all the desent places to do family outing an fun stuff disappear. Just like Holiday Beach in douglas ga was here then gone. Now it’s a home subdivision. Nothing left to do an people wonder why children are the way they are today.
I would like the name of the Pearson or Pearson’s that own it now. Would live to c if they would reconcile of selling this property to rebuild the lake an reopen it
Many fun times for my friends and I as children and teenages have been spent here. Awesome memories!!!!
I remember taking my boys to Crystal Lake in the late ’80’s * ’90’s. We took the from our church too. Am sorry to see how it looks now. WOW it brings back a lot of GOOD MEMORIES. Charle
We loved that place growing up, there was so many memories of our family time…
Breaks my heart,,,,,,crystal lake, lake b,holiday beach,jay bird,lake destiny,and red bluff. Those were indeed the “best of times’! Happy and proud to be a teen in the 80’s.
When, A. N. Adcock bought. There were 3 other co owners: Leonard Morris, Joseph A. Carson Sr., and a Mr Pennington. Mr. Carson was my Uncle Joe, and so I spent a lot of time there throughout my adolescent and teen years. Enjoyed the article,
Bobby Pennington was not an owner. He worked as manager for many, many years. He passed away in March 2015. I was his wife. He loved the place.
I had Coach Pennington when I was in the 7th or 8th grade 1971 . He taught Ga. History and could draw a cartoon pic in a minuet . Sorry to hear of his passing .
Yeah, we always got in for free.
WE HAD OUR F F A SUPPER IN 1946 A LOT OF GOATS WERE THERE THEN DID NOT GO BACK TO THE 60
JOE B IRELAND ASHBURN GA,
Robert Adcock tried transplanting Palm Trees from Florida with little success. I know that he really tried to develop Crystal Lake into an enjoyable retreat and it was still a beautiful place when my Mother & I took my teenage daughter and friends there in the early 1990’s. Robert & his wife were friends of my parents and were aging and in deteriorating health shortly after my last visit to Crystal Lake ( in the 1990’s).
This is so sad that I want to cry. I have many fond memories of taking my family here. We used to show up on Friday just before they closed and you didn’t have to pay to get in for that day. We would set up a tent in the camp ground (Camp ground was latter closed) and that evening a man would come around and take our money for Saturday. They only charged for the entrance fee and did not charge anything for the camping. Shortly before they closed I went down one of the small slides backwards and the slide was dry and burnt a place on my back about as big as a silver dollar. It got badly infected from the water and took forever to heal. I always suspected that they latter found out that the water was contaminated and quietly closed the place down.
The man who took your money was George the caretaker who lived on the property .
I guess it’s a sign of the times. I had a good time there. Friends and I went every other weekend to swim and play in the early 70’s. It’s such a shame that such a fun place can’t be enjoyed by the new generation. We’d drive from Albany to and stop at a Dairy Queen on the way and have a chili dog,fries and coke then on to Crystal Lake and stay til dusk and drive back to Albany tired and exhausted . Oh for those younger years!
I remember going there a few times I enjoyed very it very much.
I don’t know what inspired me to google Crystal Beach today and I’m sorry I did. I can’t believe what’s happened to the place! While stationed at Moody AFB my buddies, wives and children would visit often and even stayed over night in tents several times, we had the best memories and to see it gone and dried up is heart breaking. *sigh* Change sucks.
remember going there and on the way in the backseat of car listening to BJ Thomas “Everything is beautiful” on the way. Some of the best times. It is a shame it closed.
corrcection………that was Ray Stevens song
I remember going there on a forth of July and there was a concert. I do not remember who it was. But I remember they kept singing, ” Hang on Snoopy, Hang on!” I loved it. I also got a severe sunburn too. Still had lot’s of fun though!
You must have been young then. The song was Hang on Sloopy
I worked there and played there!!! We need a beach like this again!
I went to Crystal Lake in the 1960s as a teenager several times with our Church group and as a July 4th celebrater with cousins!!! I think you could call it “The First Water Park” in South Georgia!!! Loved going here and wish it was still open!!! I would have liked to have taken My Daughters and Grandchildren here to show them where we went to have fun!!! So Sad when it closed!!! Oh well, I still have the memories to tell them about it!!! Thanks for posting this and taking Me down memory lane once again!!!
Miss that place! Miss jay bird springs too.
What a shame we have such great memories from that place .should have been kept up.after all it was a landmark.
SO many wonderful, priceless memories were made at Crystal Lake. The free CDB concert in the late 70’s, the water slides, camping overnight, taking my children there. It seemed like it took forever to get there from Thomasville, even longer from Hahira. Always so excited to get there, exhausted when we left, but always worth it. So sad to see it so deserted and abandoned. Would love to see it reopened, but like so many before me have said, the days of it being like it used to be are long gone. To whoever owns it, thanks for the memories and being such a wonderful part of our lives.
What was the reason they closed the lake? If u don’t mind if I ask
Lawsuits …. People drown , relatives sue , insurance skyrockets! Do you get the picture?
Lost Slave spirits!!!
Ummm because the water dried up due mainly to lack of water conservation by all of us. Irrigation for watermelons and other farm crops has had such an effect on many of the springs which once gushed forth plenty of water. Radium Springs same thing, Poor Robin, Jay Bird, just to name a few that have pretty much met same fate. Not blaming farmers, blaming all of us and the fools we elect to our guvmint.
I spent many summer days at Crystal Lake/Beach As a child and teenager. I was fortunate to be able to take my son before it closed. I wish I could take my grandson now. We no longer have places like this that the whole family can go and just have a simple family day out. I also went to Holiday Beach and Lake B when I was young my son and grandson missed out on some good wholesome fun because it is just not available anymore. If you can’t afford a pool in your own yard they have no where to swim or meet up with friends for a fun summer day.
Don’t forget their is a theme/water park in Valdosta “Wild Adventures”
It’s just not the same.
NOT THE SAME!!! BELIEVE ME!
Man-made cannot begin to compete with the generational joy of being in nature. Most of us loved Crystal Lake long before it ever had waterslides and docks and such built there. Went there for 30 years. Spent my Senior Skip Day there, all the while, keeping an eye out for Dear Mr. Gene Chambers!!!
On my first visit here, I almost drowned going to my sixth grade year (circa 1991). I never returned.
Please…please..bring it back..it would be even bigger now..and 3 times more popular.3 times more money 💵
I spent some great times here from the mid 70s to the late 80s! Many of my best memories were made here over weekend trips from Moultrie and camping in the Spring. The pictures posted above are painful to look at. I remember the “Slippery Dip” vividly, as well as some of the later slides like the “Aqua Twister” (#3 I think?). I was down that way this past week and the Alapaha River was really high. I wonder…?
It’s ashamed that the lake couldn’t have been perservedl
I loved this place so much as a child. We spent a lot of time there. So awesome! Was it on Pinetta Road?
Not on Pinetta Rd. Crystal Lake Rd.
Spent a lot of time here w/ my bestfriend and her family as a teenager. Loved it! I don’t know if there was any truth to it, but I remember in the 90s it was rumored that the Pennington family out of Perry owned the park, at least partially. I can’t remember the dad’s name, but he was a principal or vice principal of one of the schools in Perry and his daughter, Sloan, graduated high school with me.
Coach Pennington who did live in perry was not an owner , however he was a fixture on weekends, especially 4th of July throughout the 1970s
Coach had a beautiful ” radio ” voice and was the person that you heard
Over the PA system making announcements .remember the rules !
# 1 don’t attempt to swim the lake it is much further than you think.
Coach Pennington from Perry was employed by Mr Adcock and Mr Morris the owners. Mr Pennington was not an owner.
Bobby Pennington worked as manager at Crystal Lake.He had no ownership. He was principal at Perry Middle School in Perry. He passed away in March 2015. He loved working there. I was his wife.
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Someone mentioned a hanging here..here’s the story
The Bone Pond or Crystal Lake.
On lots of land number forty-seven and forty-eight in third district of Irwin
County, owned by Dr. W. L. Story of Ashburn, Georgia, is located one of the most
beautiful bodies of water in all of this South Georgia country. It covers about
one hundred acres of land, is away from any stream of water; no water course
empties into it except one small spring which does not afford sufficient water
to maintain this lake, which is evidence that it is supported by hidden
underground streams. This lake is seventy-five feet deep, in the deepest place
and has a beautiful sandy bottom and except at two places is shallow from the
edge gradually becoming deeper for from thirty to fifty yards before it becomes
deep as a man’s head. It is surrounded by a beautiful sandy beach and back of
this is a perfectly dry hammock covered with oaks with beautiful foliage and
attached to these trees are long streamers of gray moss. The water is crystal
clear and has been analyzed to be pure. It abounds with all kinds of fresh-water
fish which can be viewed from the banks or the pavilion, coming to the surface
to gather bread when thrown into the water for them. It is one of the most
beautiful and most healthful resorts for bathing, boating, picnics, etc. The
name of this place is Crystal Lake. Its name in the early days was the Bone
Pond, named after a man by the name of Bone who once owned it. Bone came to
Irwin County about 1858, and the next year he moved to Crystal Lake and cleared
a small farm. A man by the name of John Mathews cultivated this land for Bone.
During the Civil War two escaped Federal Yankee prisoners took refuge at
Bone’s home and he protected them. They remained hidden in the hammock on
southwest side of the pond and cleared about twelve or fifteen acres of hammock
land for Bone. During the time they were at Bone’s place they went to the farm
of Hon. MaNassa Henderson, Sr., about twelve miles away and stole two of
Henderson’s horses. Everybody thought Bone instigated this theft as Henderson
was a Secessionist and Bone a Union man. Daniel Henderson and others secured the
trail of the thieves following them into what is now Coffee County and come so
near overtaking them until the Yankee thieves fled leaving the horses which were
captured and returned to the owner. One of the thieves stopped some distance
farther on and committed another theft and was killed by his pursuers.
Bone was relieved from going to the war because he was a miller. He, having a
steam corn mill on the bank of Crystal Lake. At the time Bone built this mill at
the lake it was much smaller in size than at the present time. Where his mill
was located at that time on dry land the water is five feet deep at present
time. It is said that after Bone’s death in 1865, the lake rose up to the eaves
of the mill house, then in a few years it remained low for a number of years,
but in 1928 and 1929 it gradually began to rise until at present time, 1930, it
is as full as any of the old citizens have ever seen it, but is now on a
Bone proved to be a criminal of the vilest kind. In the spring of 1865,
Toney, a negro slave belonging to Mr. Sam Young, ran away from home and went to
Bone and he concealed him in the same hammock he concealed the Yankee horse
thieves, and put him to work cutting growth off his newly cleared land.
Mr. Jack Walker was Justice of Peace and the neighbor of Bone, living about
three miles west of the Alapaha River from Bone’s place. Walker owned a large
stock of hogs, many of which ranged near Bone’s plantation in the swamp. He left
home on Monday morning about April 20, 1865, carrying a wallet of corn, as was
customary in that day, also his rifle gun, looking for his hogs to feed them and
incidently to kill a deer for provision. In looking for hogs he went by Bone’s
hammock field and found the negro, Toney, there. Walker was a strong man so he
decided to capture the negro. In doing this he got into a scramble with the
negro but from the sign left on the ground Walker had the negro down and was
preparing to tie him when he was shot from ambush.
Night came and Walker did not return home. The neighbors were notified and
went in search of him but failed to find any trace. The news was spread of
Walker’s disappearance and the people turned out en masse to search for him.
Wednesday came and still no trace of Walker could be secured.
Wednesday was mill day at Bone’s mill. Dink Walker, a son of Jack Walker, and
James H. Fletcher went to the mill. Bone spoke to them and told Dink Walker he
had heard his father was missing and also said, I’ve heard that they say I
killed him. Bone also talked very rough to Walker. A short while after this,
Bone was taken into custody. He refused to tell his captors anything. Bone had
two children, Mary and Tayler. Tayler was a boy about fourteen or fifteen years
old. He was taken away from his father and was told by his captors that they
believed he knew where Walker was and that the whole crowd would be hung unless
he told all he knew about it. Tayler replied, “If you’ll not hang me, I will
tell you how it all happened.” He was assured that if he would tell the truth
and tell all about it that he would not be hurt. This is about what Tayler said.
“Daddy carried the negro’s dinner and called me to bring his gun which I did.
The negro and Walker were in a scuffle and Daddy shot Walker from the gap of the
field and hit Walker but did not kill him. Daddy went to Walker while he was
down and hit him on the head with his gun until he thought him dead. He and the
negro then took Walker up and carried him to an old bay north of the pond and
buried him and his gun in the mud. I don’t know what became of the negro.”
The people who were there searching for Walker went to the field and found
the sign of the struggle, found blood on the fence where Bone had crossed it
with Walker and went into the swamp and found where he was buried. Evidently he
was buried alive as his hands had worked upward through the mud and blood had
come to the surface. Walker’s body was taken to the pond and they attempted to
cleanse it by washing but this could not be done, he having been dead so long
decomposition had set in to such an extent the body could not be cleansed, the
skin would burst and come apart. The negro Toney has never been seen or heard
from. It was the supposition at the time that Bone killed him and put his body
with weights attached in the deepest part of the pond.
All the people in the country had gathered to assist in the search for
Walker. It being about the close of the war many soldiers had just returned home
from the army. The best people of the county were there. They organized by
electing Rev. Jacob Young, a Primitive Baptist minister and a former judge of
Inferior Court, as chairman or judge and organized a court of justice and
proceeded to try Bone for the murder of Walker. After hearing the evidence he
was promptly and properly convicted and sentenced to be hung.
A scaffold was erected on the edge of the pond under a large oak tree with a
large limb extending out over the newly erected scaffold.
Ropes in those days were scarce. Mrs. Jemimah Hogan, wife of David M. Hogan,
had spun and woven a rope to use around a bale of cotton in place of ties and
this new rope was used to hang Bone. All things being ready for the execution,
John and Sam Walker, sons of the murdered man, were permitted to tie the
hangman’s knot and Sam Walker was allowed to climb the tree and place the rope
over the limb, which he gladly did. Then Bone was made to mount the scaffold and
told that he had fifteen minutes to make any statement he desired. These were
his last words, “Take warning from me and don’t come to what I have.” He moved
and the scaffold fell and launched Bone, the murderer, into eternity.
A grave was dug in the jamb of the fence of one of Bone’s patches at the
northwest corner of the pond and when the grave was ready, Bone’s wife sent or
brought a sheet with the request that his body be wrapped in it, which was done
and the body was placed in the grave.
After Bone was hung, his wife told a Mr. Pridgen that Bone, after killing
Walker, placed or hid Walker’s shoes and hat in a hollow log and told where the
log was and upon investigation they were found to be there as she stated.
The family were notified to wind up their affairs, dispose of their property,
and move out of the county. This was done as speedily as possible and they moved
back to Taylor County, Georgia.
Very intriguing. I have never heard this history and I am quite interested. Thanks for sharing.
To Mr Michael Willis Bone: The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863 as you state (I’m taking your word for it as to the date) However, the land and the pond was under control of the Confederacy at that time, Therefore it is quite possible that there were slaves being held beyond that date. It was the 13th amendment to the U,S. Constitution that truly freed the slaves and that was passed after the war. It sounds like what Mr Bone was doing was using the runaway slaves as his own slaves, judging by the accounts written here on this blog.
John A. (Jack) Walker is buried on the old Walker farm about 3 miles as the crow flies from Bones Pond (Crystal Lake). This story follows the facts known and past down in the Walker family and as generally recorded in the book History Of Irwin County.
The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 win Lee surrendered. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863. Therefore there was no “negro slave” on April 20, 1865 as told in this story. (There are those that say the Emancipation Proclamation did not reach some parts of the South until 1964.) Willis Jackson Bone was my great great Grandfather. We share two names, a birthdate and are both anti war. You can read about his anti war activities in the archives of the Wire Grass Farmer in Ashburn.
Apparently, you read a different article. The first thing I did in this was to refute the notion that Mr. Bone WAS a slaveholder. Re-read it and perhaps you’ll see that.
I suspect lake could be made to hold water and with an ambitious undertaking the facilities could be restored. The right investor would have to explore all the legal ramifications and an engineering economy study would have to be done to explore the financial feasibility. Anything can be done with enough vision.
Since the spring would probably act as a drain, it would have to be dammed up. Then the pumps could be fired up to fill the rest of the lake.
The Adcocks will never reopen the lake. Pretty sure it is being used as a hunting club and tax write off. And actually Mr Morris and Adcock owned it together and they had a falling out due to Adcocks business practices(according to Mr Morris). Mr Morris chose to cut ties with Adcock. They were business partners for many, many years, developed a lot of land around Tifton(Forest Lakes for one). Crystal Lake was spring fed,springs were clogged due to constant hauling of sand for the beach and aquifer levels didn’t help. They pumped water for 3-4 months before the season to bring the level up. The big diesel engine on the left after you passed the slippery dip was a 14″ deep well.
They actually tried to dig a canal from the river at some point, you can see it from google earth.
With the law suits, insurance costs, upkeep, and dwindling attendence it didn’t make financial sense to keep it open.
Mr Alan Paulk who opened Holiday Beach did the smart thing, he closed and developed it into Baymeadows Estates. And Carl and Miss Dixie live just across the river….
I miss this place so much it needs to open back up
My mother has videos of us swimming there and on the slides as well as a bunch of pictures back in the 90′s
I was watching Friday the 13th and it brought back memories of Crystal Beach, I looked it up and glad I did! These photos brought back awesome memories from my childhood, my older brother used to scare me and tell me Jason was going to pop out of the lake! Miss this place 😦
My siblings and I had such great times at the lake. We went every 4th of July. My mother would grill, and we would have lots of fun… 😦
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We have a few pictures from “94-96” of our last visit to the lake. When we went back a few years later it had closed down and because we lived out of town we never knew what happen to it. It is very sad to see what use to be a fun family location turn into nothing but sand and memories. I miss it. Now that I know that it has a sink hole I don’t believe that I would want my kids out there in it if it reopened! But it was once an AWESOME place to go!
The sink hole was there from the beginning….long before 1994
Yes, the whole area is full of sinkholes!
It was an awesome place to spend our summer time!! But as many of y’all keep posting would like to see it reopened and restored, as we all know it has a SINK HOLE in it and as a parent I’d never take my kids if it could be reopened! I would love to read some history on lake beatrous ( I think that’s spelled wrong tho) but another words the skating ring with papa Ellie
I went to a Charlie Daniels concert there in 1977. It was a great concert and a great place to have fun. Later I took my children there about 93 or 94 I think. We enjoyed cooking out and riding the slides. It is so sad to see these photos and realize no one can enjoy what we did any longer.
I went to that concert with Darrell Luke and it was a blast.
I went to that concert. Didn’t remember the year.
Here is a link to the history on crystal lake and mr bones…. Scroll done the page till you see crystal lake….
Thank you so much for sharing these pictures of Crystal Lake. My Grandmother and Grandfather met at Crystal Lake as teens, went on dates there, and my Grandfather even proposed to my Grandmother there. I have never been there, so I am enjoying seeing the pictures of it very much!
Remeber watching the Beach Boys playing there when I was about 7 years old.
When I was flying a Cessna 152 in 12th grade, I discovered you get in free if you fly there. But you only pay for the time the engine is running when renting from the airport. So I booked the plane for four hrs. and made the 15 min flight from Tifton. And then I couldn’t land due to a 17 knot crosswind and I didn’t have enough crosswind landing training. I really needed some toilet paper on that trip…
I never went to the park when it was open, but I spent many weekends of my childhood there long after it had closed. My aunt worked for Mr. Adcock and me and my cousin enjoyed playing on the beach and in the lake before it dried up. All the slides had fallen apart and become over grown. Mr. Adcock could never reopen because of all the legal cases that were filed. And all his kids wanted was his money so he spent the last years of his life in a home suffering from dementia.. I’m surprised the land and everything has not been sold or auctioned off yet..its sad what has happened to the place and that nothing has been done with it..
This comment is inaccurate. I am A.N.’s granddaughter. He spent the last years of his life in HIS home being taken care of by his wife & family. He always requested to never be placed in a home, so his children refused to do that to him. He was a wonderful business man, & he is truly missed.
Remember going to crystal lake in the mid 60’s, it was a great place to visit but as so many other places we enjoyed back then have closed due to several reasons such as liability and a lot of new generations (not all) total lack of respect for people and property. Want to see something sad visit Panama City Beach during spring break. I remember having a lot of fun at the Hang Out with students from Ala., Fl, and Ga. You forgot to mention that Crystal Lake also had a landing strip in the later years.
Enjoyed article . My dad owned farm nearest to crystal lake and took me there about 1950. He told me that he had turned the sand around lake with mule and turning plow. The water was up on back steps of bldg. then. I was told of a hanging and believe I saw a picture, probably when Bone owned it. Perhaps someone knows more details.
Would love to see any photograph of back in the 1860s or earlier when my 3rd great grandfather owned it.
Crystal Lake was a HUGE part of my teenage yrs!! I have so many awesome memories there!!! As I scrolled through all the pictures, they brought back sooooo many wonderful memories!! I absolutely LOVED that place!!! When I see pics of it, I picture myself there!!!! Thank you so much for sharing these & all the interesting facts!!!! 🙂
Laura, remember uncle david and aunt Dot’s coca cola ice chest?!?!?!
So sad to see this once great place to go like this. I LOVED going there as a kid and would love for it be able to be re-opened. We need a place like this today. Isn’t there any way to be able to restore it? Someone has to know a way.
Speaking of vanishing south ga. Anybody remember jay bird spring. Now I’ve got lots of memories there growing up. Every summer we were there living it up
Did they have a skating rink with a wood floor?
No, you’re thinking about Lake B(Beatrice).
I think you might be thinking of Yates Springs in Brinson, Ga.
Jay Bird Springs is still there and open only to church groups. Such a shame everyone can’t enjoy it now. Was a great place to visit during my teenage years. Coldest water ever. Loved the skating rink.
That place is still open actually
Jay Bird and Wilkes Springs
I went when I was younger to young to remember but my mama has told me any stories about the place. I wish they would open it back up it would give us something to do instead of get in trouble and be on The streets. I would love to take my kids to a place I went to when I was a kid
Living in Irwinville as a child, Crystal Lake was an easy way to give directions to anywhere in Irwinvile. People from all over knew how to get to Crystal Lake. I remember summer family picnics and sitting in the water really still and watching the fish swim up to me! Sadly, not a summer past that someone didn’t drown out there. It was always tragic to hear.
Is there any chance the aquifer will ever replenish the lake! I’m so sad! I spent so many weekends at crystal lake in the late 70’s through the 80’s until I moved away! I’m back in south Ga and would love to know if there’s any possibility this gorgeous lake at one time could just disappear and turn to sand!
Please reply if possible! Would live to see it full of water again from the springs if they have to limit farmers irrigation wells so be it they don’t need as deep of wells as their building and causing normal shallow wells to go bad in some areas homes!
Can anyone remember Monroe high school senior skip day of 86′ almost all of school skipped and ended up there!!!
No but I remember the 87′ Monroe high school senior skip day there. And the same was true then, the whole school was there. And I remember Ms. Bettye Williams telling all her students that she was going to be there taking names and those that went would get “in trouble”. I told her to give me some paper and a pen and I would write all the names down to save her a trip b/c we were going no matter what.
I remember all the skip days in High School. I was there in 87, 88, 89 & 90. Monroe High School was awesome. To many good memories. Would love to see this place open back up.
This was THE place to go for my girls in the 1990’s. Even remember going as the grand finale of VBS. Also remember getting a speeding ticket in Omega once when returning. Doesn’t ANYBODY have any pictures showing the water and people in it that they could supply for our enjoyment? That would be great!
I went there in the late 50’s and stayed in a cabin. No toilets but outhouses. We wondered the woods and found other sink holes around the main lake. I went there in the 60’s and 70’s growing up and returned with my children in the 80’s. I don’t believe the talk that water was pumped in to keep the lake full. It was full in the 50’s. Irrigation from the aquifer is most likely the cause of the downfall of the lakes water but the civil suites due to drowning’s is what closed the lake.
I’m 53 and I’ve lived nearby all of my life. I remember years ago, before there were any irrigation wells around, hearing that diesel engine screaming all night long over there, pretty much every night during the summer, pumping water from the big well trying to keep it full.
I was there for the Charlie Daniels Band concert in 1978. My friends from Turner County had already spread out a picnic lunch and had a grill going. Everyone always had a great time every time we went.
This was a real nice place in the late 80s and early 90s until people started to abuse its use. Many uncouth people deficated in the water and made it a nasty place to swim. I am glad to see it gone from that standpoint.
What is everyone’s thoughts on a “save crystal beach” project to revive the lake as a weekend family destination?! Please let me know how much interest there is via email email@example.com
Jes Simmons I know I would absolutely love to revive this park!!! I went several times as a young child and had a blast!!! It would be awesome to be able to take my son there if it was to be restored!!! I believe it would do good because it is sooo simple yet filled with excitement! You could probably charge a lot less than places like wild adventures and keep it packed! I would rather goto Crystal Beach any day of the week!!! “SAVE CRYSTAL BEACH”
Invite folks far and wide for a community picnic day. Ask for ideas, brainstorm and who knows maybe some investors would show up.
Would love to see this wonderful place restored.
Would live to see this place back up and running. Spent many a days out there,my sister worked there and Mr.A dock was a very good friend of my mom,yes we never had to pay to get in,so we stayed out there. So sad that it is gone..
As a boy this lake fascinated me. You could see the bottom. Huge fish (at least to a little boy) could be seen swimming by the swimming platforms positioned fifteen or so feet from the shore. I would lie on the wood platform and watch the fish swim under me. The tall water slide was fast and fun as well. It was a great place to have a relaxing day. I think modern games and smart phones have ruined the outdoor spirit we used to have.
Fly over of Crystal Lake.
I loved this place so much a lot of great memories was made here .
I wish someone would do a drone fly over now in summer of 2018 – would be interesting to see what it looks like now.
truly many of my fondest teenage memories were created at this lake. Thanks so much for the article and the clear passion behind it.
Although it brings back wonderful memories, it is so disheartening to see how it looks today. I’d give anything to see it restored to when it was known as Crystal Beach and we had so many amazing weekends there as teens and young adults in the late 80’s and early 90’s.. Sadly, that will never happen. Great article. Very informative.
I spent many a day there with my family in the 80’s and 90’s, and then went on to work there as a lifeguard 1996 and 1997 with my brother, Brad. I have some great memories and made some great friends. My dad has a few great stories of scuba diving in the sinkhole when he was young. The last labor day I worked, there were 25 lifeguards and close to 5000 people. There were always folks from Coffee, Tift, Berrien, Irwin, Lowndes, Turner, and other places. I bet insurance got too high and lawsuits from drownings did the place in. But, I can’t think of a more beautiful place to have spent so many hours of my life. Snakes and at least 1 gator along with some good smells of food on the grill. Has anyone kept up with Carl and Dixie, the folks that managed the place toward the end?
I remember going there in the 70’s as a child with my Mom and Aunt! They would take us and we would grill on those little grills! The only slide that was there then was the on in the lake. I remember going do the slide and when I stood up I had something between my toes and when I reached down to see, it was a 20 dollar bill. Luck!!!! Great times had there by many!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!
Sorry for the typo’s (was the *one) and (going *down the slide)
I hunted and fished here as a kid (early 2000s) before it was leased. It was an outdoorsmen’s Mecca – lake, river, and lots of woods. Not to mention a pretty cool place to explore.
i only got to enjoy going there a few times as a kid. wish there was some way to reopen it. with proper surveillance and such it could be great again. and it would also be a great place to visit if wild adventures is too far away. get some concerts included too. maybe season passes or just day passes only.
i like looking at the pictures but they make me sad. i remember how great it was and looked forward visiting it.
thank you for doing this article.
There is no water because of farmers using it Barbara.
This place was so much fun. Swimming, being with family all day no worry about getting in a hurry. You got there early and left late. You always saw someone you knew. I can say again, this was the best place to be with your family and have good clean fun.
Spent many a weekend there as a teenager/young adult. It was just far enough away from home to make an adventure out of it and yet close enough our parents would let us go with a group of our friends. I wish it were still open so that my son would know what I was talking about when I go back to the “good old days”
I use to go there when I was young. I have many great memories.
Wow, that was a blast from the past! Spent many Summers at Crystal Lake. Very fond memories!
Back in the 80’s I worked for WGIG/WCUP radio stations. We used to do remote broadcasts from Crystal Lake on holiday occasions and always had a blast. I have so many fond memories going there every weekend! It was a great place to bring the faily or just soak up the sun with friends! Ahhhh…the good old days…when life was simple!
Really enjoyed going there every summer family.was a great family place to enjoy.wish it was back.my daughter has never had opportunity to go.she’s 22. my son got to go he’s 26.was a really great place mr.brown harper
My parents took us here all of the time in the 80’s and early 90’s. Great memories. We visited from Colquitt County, and proudly displayed the bumper sticker.
Thanks for the memories. We used to field trip there with the YMCA (from Waycross,Ga). Man that was a lifetime ago….
Thanks so much for sharing this history and these pictures. Our family enjoyed Crystal Lake for many outings in the 70’s and 80’s until 1986 when we moved to Florida. Wonderful memories from there. Our last tent camping came at Crystal Lake. We were set up and it came a terrible thunder/rain storm and the tent caved in and we got into the vehicle with our two daughters, a nephew, and niece leaving all of our camping equipment and drove home to Albany, Georgia. Went back to Crystal Lake the next day to collect all of our camping gear. Two weeks later we purchased our first camper.
Crystal Lake was my favorite place to go in the 70’s-80’s. I went there before the slides came. Our church used to take the Sunday School classes out there during the week. A fish bit a tiny mole I had on my stomach the year I turned 13, while our group was there. Every one laughed about my fish ATTACK. He just nibbled it, but it scared me to death when I first felt it. It bled a little and had an indention after it healed. I still tell that story to my Grandchildren. They think it’s hilarious. So sad it looks like this now. Even if they opened it back up-we’d have all the druggies and gangs out there ruining it. I wouldn’t want to spoil all the good memories I have growing up out there. When Adcock first got it he did a lot of updating-and it became even more popular-then more expensive-but I would work during the summer on my brother-in-laws farm so I could go there on weekends-usually Saturdays. It’s some of my best memories from my teen years. It would never be the family oriented place it was-again.
Sorry to see it like this. It was a great place to go back in the day.
I so remember this place, it was a great place to go to get away, have fun with family and friends. So many memories from the 80’s here at what we called Crystal Lake at the time. Growing up during the summer we would pile up in trucks and spend the day here rather than go to the beach. I still have pics of me and family here we were just young teens. Thankyou for the pics and bringing back such loving, great memories!!
Our youth group and my family went there several times. It is sad that it dried up and closed. A lot of good memories except for the nibbling fish.
We took our kids and grandkids there when they were growing up. My oldest grandson was on a commerical on tv.
Yeah! I was 2 weeks late for delivery and my mom decides to get in her bathing suit and go to Crystal Lake July 23, 1978 with the family – dad’s family. I decided to come and was born swiftly at 12:57pm that day after my Aunt Renee found my dad and they took that corner out of there on the main drag in at 80 miles per hour. They announced my birth over the loud speaker so that my sister, grandparents and uncles would know I had arrived. I came right out at Tift General Hospital before my dad could park the car and come inside. I had arrived when he came into the hospital. My sister, who was 6 yrs old, was very unhappy about my arrival. She asked my mom “Can we take her back?” after we all arrived home together. My mom calls me EVERY year at 12:57pm to wish me a happy birthday. I grew up at this Lake! Jessica Lyn Edenfield, daughter of James Paul Edenfield,Jr and Debra Edenfield, grandaughter of the late Paul and Georgia Jennette Edenfield ~ sister to Jennifer Lynn Edenfield (who loves me now, of course!)
Brian, loved the pics and the history. My mom, who was a child in the 1920s, told me there was another sinkhole lake near Crystal Lake that would completely and rapidly drain out every few years and then fill back up. She always told of a time when her dad, Judge AJ McDonald of Fitzgerald, took his family out in a boat on that lake and somehow lost his glasses in the lake. Several years later, the pond drained out, and he went back and retrieved them!
The Adcock family should send these pictures to the producers of “The Walking Dead”, filmed in Senoia. Would make an excellent location for an episode!
In 1957-58 my Dad owned a little garage in Irwinville, sat by the Red store in front of the cotton gin. Crystal Lake was closed at the time. The owner gave Dad a key and we would go out there to picknik and swim. That is where I learned to swim. The old diving platform was still in from of the old building then. We were always the only ones there and had a blast. The crystal white beach has always defined definition of where it came from. My mom and had gone there as dating teens and told us about all the old entertainment available. Lots of very good memories tied up there.
This brings back so many wonderful memories. My children were practically raised there. Its sad to see it like it is today. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see it filled & running again? Thanks for the pictures.
The photos brought back a lot of old memories. I was sadden to learn of its closure.
Lots of great memories with my family and friends here!
I loved that place….it was so nice to end up like this
I saw Charlie Daniels and his band there in 1978. The Outlaws motorcycle gang was there too. We all had a great time at that Sunday afternoon concert.
Thanks for the pictures, Brian! I have a lot of great memories from this place!
We went there all the time when I was a kid. We spent every July 4th there and I really hated when it closed. I went on my first date with my husband there 31 years ago.
I wish someone would bring this place back. SO MANY childhood memories there! Barbecues, fireworks on the 4th of July, just good, clean, family fun. Those were the good old days when the worst thing you had to worry about was someone drinking a few too many beers…. I miss it so much!
Some of my best childhood memories every summer church fieldtrip there.
The lake was basically just another sinkhole like the several others you could find in the woods surrounding the Lake. It was turned into what appeared to be a huge lake because water was pumped from the springs into it. Once the pump was turned off the Lake went back to a sinkhole over time. Thanks to the droughts it’s all dried up now. It’s a sad sight to see. That place was a huge part of my childhood.
As for why it’s not around anymore. I would assume the raising cost of insurance and changing of the times. I’m sure it became a huge liability to keep running it with people suing over drownings every year.
Sadly it’s not the parents fault for allowing their child that can’t swim to run around a water park unsupervised. At least by the time the 90′s hit and people started going lawsuit crazy for every little thing. It would appear what was a fun and affordable family location for those summer weekends was becoming less and less affordable each year and more and more of a headache to operate.
You nailed it James!
JAMES EVERYTHING YOU HAVE SAID IS SO TRUE. THINGS ARE NOT THE SAME NOW. WISH IT WOULD OPEN AGAIN. BUT IT WOULD NEVER NE THE SAME. TIME AS CHANGED AND SO HAVE PEOPLE. JUST LIKE THE OLD DRIVE IN MOVIE SHOW. THINGS ARE TOO BAD TO REDO ALL THIS GOOD OLD MEMORIES.
Two black kids from Atlanta drowned in that lake .
one thing not mentioned too much about this place and others, the water back in the day was cleaner than now, even if it was pumped from another area; these places once the underground pumped out to surface, closer to surface, became contaminated by ground bacteria just underground; that led to many places quietly closing, so as no one would connect anybody getting sick; the owners/managers stayed quiet and never said, for fear of litigation; they used the accident and cost factor to shut them down, the real issue was though, dirty water on to contaminated water pumped in. Imagine having a health scare happen to a place like this back in the day if it was found out the water was full of amoebas, talk about a panic attack, I’d shut the place down using whatever excuse to do that.
Always, great photos and history lesson found in your blog, Brian. It’s a shame that the Lake never returned, but I’m sure it’s popularity as a fun spot had long-since peaked by the time ’98 rolled around. Keep up the good work, and good-sharing 🙂
so very sad to see this…. ohh how I would love it for them to bring it back. I would just love to take my grandbabies out there to enjoy some of what I did back in the day….. Just miss it sooooo much… thanks for the update and and pictures as sad as it is to see it now the pictures were very good to see….
Thank you for posting these pictures. Makes me sad to see it like this and wish it could return to the beautiful place that it was. Spent many happy hours there in the 60’s and 70’s.
Its tough to see a place that holds such dear memories for so many in this condition. Would so love to see it open again!
It is sad isn’t it, oh how I loved going there. Would be wonderful to see it up and running again..
I remember stories my mama told about her and my dad swimming across the lake in the 60s. Always wondered what happened to the place. Went there Many times in the 80s! Speaking of forgotten South Georgia landmarks, whatever happened to “Holiday Beach” over around Douglas I believe? Spent many summers there too! Some great concerts there as well.
Holiday Beach is now just a lake which is only accesible if you own a house or land around it.. It was also such a great place. I worked there for two summers. We sure miss it and Crystal Lake.
We lived in Jacksonville Ga. back then. It was a real treat for us to get to go over there. I remember everyone riding around with the radio blasting. Kids enjoying the water. And the smell of the grills was great.
It is never too late. A place like that surely could make a come back. With the right people backing it.
This is a pitiful site to see. Really hurts to see this awful pictures of a place that gave us so many great memories.
Thank you for posting this Brian. I was just telling someone about the place I worked the summer before my senior year in high school. I think this would now be the perfect setting for B rated horror movie!
my grandma use to take me there when I was a kid
I remember going to Crystal Lake probably around 1950.when I was about 10years old.
Camped out there so many time and had lots of great times there my boys grew up there most every weekend sad to see it look so bad 😦
my family use to spend the summers there grilling and swimming. It broke my heart when it closed.
What a wonderful pictorial chronicle of days gone by.
spent many days at crystal lake with family and friends.
So sad to see this beautiful place in such a pitiful condition. I visited mostly in the 70’s & 80’s. We moved away around 1983 and didn’t go back. My sister lives on Hwy 107/ Rebecca-Waterloo Rd. Would love to see this place sometime….maybe my brother-in-law knows someone…. LOVE YOUR PICTURES!
How sad to see the condition the lake is in now. Our family had a lot of good times at Crystal Lake/Beach in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Last went there in the early 90′s with our church. Had a great time.
Wonderful photos, Brian. I have so many fun memories of working summers out there back in late 80′s and early 90′s!! Thanks for sharing!
How’s that leg you tried to cut off stepping in a pipe?