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.
Spring break always allowed a trip on my birthday and every school holiday we went to Georgia. I was lucky to get many a birthday party-family and CAKE at Radium Springs. The pictures on the walls of the beautiful ladies in the 40s, etc was a little girl’s dream to grow up and look that glamorous! Sentimental about the place! We went a few years back and it was quite different, but I was still happy to see it. It is beautiful and a one-of-a-kind. Thank you.
My family lived there in 1981 in a guest cottage and my husband worked in the restaurant. There was a couple we met who sang with us and played the guitar named Phil and Becky. We loved it there it was beautiful.
What a trip down memory lane. I swam and snorkeled at Radium Springs when there was a high dive and a slide. Great way for a kid to spend a day.
Lived in near by Baconton in the early 50’s. Can remember swimming here. The water was very cold and to a young girl it was a very glamorous place! There was also a pool and skate center at River Bend.
Enjoyed visiting the “Springs” while living in Albany in middle 60’s. Was popular place then.
I went swimming there once upon a time. If there was a casino there then, I did not notice. this was in the early 60’s probally around summer of 1962. The spring and water was very clean but cold to me. I have thought about going back many time but reckon not now. It was a lot of fun to a 16yro.
I had never heard of Radium Springs until I read a new book this year, A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA’s Secret War. Gary Francis Powers, the famous U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union, met his wife at the Radium Springs Casino. Air Force pilots from nearby Turner Air Force Base frequented the casino. Turner was turned into a Naval Air Station which closed and the Wikipedia page says part of the site was sold to a brewery. Maybe there are some interesting photos there!
My daddy, Joseph McDonald Gibson, was raised in Albany. I have pics of him & friends swimming there. My mom ( from Edenton, NC) told of going to a dance there & described the interior which featured chestnut wood.
Thanks for these pics. Many times I have been through or to Albany and I never knew about these springs.
My grandmother lived in Hawkinsville. I visited her many summers. I went to Mock Springs outside of Hawkinsville once while there. in the late 80’s my family had a reunion there. The water was ice cold. Thank you for all your postings
Thank you so much for covering Radium Springs! My mother was born in 1918 near Milledgeville, Ga. She moved to Waycross when she was 16. I remember her telling me many times about what fun day trips to Radium Springs were when she was in her late teens & twenties. She described it’s beauty and the cold refreshing spring water.
These pictures are greatly appreciated!
There was nothing better on a hot South Georgia Saturday afternoon than to jump into that cold water.
Recently visited there for the first time. A unique and beautiful place! It is currently having improvements and new areas added to increase its beauty.
Great photos and nice write up, Brian. Thanks as always for your continued dedication.
Grateful for your looking. Thank you.