This lush stream rises in the Appalachian foothills a few miles north of Homer in Banks County and flows northeastward into Franklin County before turning southeastward and joining the Hudson River. All of these waterways feed the Broad River and its three forks.
Nails Creek was an important location in the development of industry in the region. J. D. Cromer had a sawmill, gristmill, and gin mill here in the late 19th century and this likely supported other small businesses, as well.
Tallulah Gorge is a nearly thousand-foot-deep canyon which follows the Tallulah River for two miles resulting in one of the most beautiful natural areas in Georgia. The spectacular site is accessed at Tallulah Gorge State Park and is a mecca for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. I didn’t have much time when I was here, but even a visit of a couple of hours is one of the most rewarding trips in Georgia.
The first thing you’ll see if you plan on the strenuous descent to the Hurricane Falls suspension bridge, is L’Eau d’Or Falls, actually a series of several smaller falls. It’s a mere 350 feet below.
Known locally as “The Boils”, this natural Eden is an oxbow of House Creek, a tributary of the Ocmulgee River near the Wilcox-Ben Hill County line, which has been protected by the Fuller family for the better part of two centuries. There are several other well-known boils in this area, including Oscewicee [pronounced ossi-witchy] Springs and Lake Wilco. None of these are open or accessible to the public, though Oscewicee Springs once was. Elizabeth Sizemore recalls another site north of The Boils, Poor Robin Springs near Abbeville.
In South Georgia, the term “boils” is commonly used to describe natural springs found in creeks, rivers, oxbows, and swamps. Water rises rapidly from an underground fissure and appears to be bubbling or boiling. With an average temperature of 68-70°F year-round, unaffected by the air temperature, they are warm in winter and famously cold in summer.
Native Americans would have been the first humans to appreciate these mystical places, using them in much the same ways we use them today. They were likely sacred to the tribes who knew them, both for their beauty and their unique qualities when compared to other aspects of the nearby terrain.
One of their most appealing features is the clear water which gives them a blue appearance, looking more like a tropical sea than a Coastal Plains swamp. Since tea-colored or muddy waters are the norm in these parts, they really stand out. I have treasured memories of swimming in these places as a young man, especially on holidays when we’d float watermelons near the sides to keep them cool.
In the 1940s, biologist Brooke Meanley did fieldwork here, some of which eventually appeared in his book, Swamps, River Bottoms & Canebrakes. Local farmer and naturalist Milton Hopkins and renowned woodcarver C. M. Copeland were also regular visitors for many years, welcomed enthusiastically by “Uncle Guy” Fuller. Hopkins made detailed observations on local birdlife and C. M. Copeland ventured into the surrounding swamps and collected cypress knees to use in his carvings.
The site was documented by David Stanley for the American Folklife Center circa 1977, as well. Some of his notes and images can be found in the Library of Congress.
I’m grateful to Ken Fuller for allowing me to photograph this incredibly special place and to share it with you. My father and I really enjoyed our last visit here, as we do all our visits with Ken and family.
We saw some amazing trees.
This view from the House Creek “side” of The Boils, along with Ken’s lifelong memories of the place, was ample reward for our hike.
Henry Harford Cumming envisioned Augusta as the “Lowell of the South” [in reference to the textile hub in Massachusetts] and was the driving force behind the Augusta Canal. The first nine-mile section was completed between 1845-1846, and within a couple of years three mills had already been risen along the waterway. Built near the end of the Canal Era [roughly 1800-1850], it was amazingly successful, as most Southern canals never were, and is the only intact industrial canal still in use in the South today. It was lengthened and enlarged between 1872-1877. It was after this expansion that most of the mills associated with Augusta’s industrial heritage were constructed. These included the Enterprise, Blanche, Sibley, and King Mills. I believe the present gatehouse dates to the expansion period in the 1870s.
A V-shaped dam diverts the Savannah River at the headgates and below it are what is now known as the Savannah Rapids. It is a popular recreation area and a very picturesque location.
Along the walkway at the gatehouse you’ll notice hundreds, if not thousands, of modern padlocks. These have been left behind by visitors over the years, as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the place. I’m not sure when the tradition started, but it has definitely caught on.
Augusta Canal Industrial District, National Register of Historic Places + National Historic Landmark + Augusta Canal National Heritage Area
These snapshots were made by Frances Trammell McCormick in July 1940. This early pavilion (above) was quite different from the two that followed. It was an open-air shelter and likely held a concession stand. [I have a download of another snapshot from the same era of a much more elaborate structure which was identified as being at Crystal Lake but I’m having trouble confirming it; it seems unlikely that there would have been two large pavilions at the site around the same time].
The edge of the pavilion is visible at the extreme left of this photograph, made from the lake. A small wooden structure, likely a diving platform, is also visible. I believe there are cars parked near the shoreline.
Shoreline from the lake
Boaters passing a wooden slide
A couple walking on the beach, with the slide visible to the left
Willis Park is one of the nicest city parks in South Georgia, and is a beautifully maintained green space in the middle of town. It has been the center of life in Decatur County ever since it opened to the public in 1904.
Bainbridge Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places