Tag Archives: Georgia Rivers Creeks & Lakes

Clarks Hill Lake, McDuffie County

This man-made lake, now officially known as Lake Strom Thurmond, retains its original designation as Clarks Hill Lake in Georgia. Its creation was made possible by the construction of the Clarks Hill Dam near the confluence of the Savannah River and the Little River in 1952. It is the third largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River and provides abundant recreation and fishing opportunities for residents and tourists alike.

This view was made on a western section of the lake, near the old town of Raysville. The lake is bordered by McCormick County, South Carolina, and Lincoln, Columbia, McDuffie, and Wilkes counties in Georgia.

Kinchafoonee Creek, Lee County

Rising near Buena Vista, Kinchafoonee Creek flows southeasterly for nearly 92 miles before joining the Flint River at Albany. According to Ken Krakow, the name is Creek for Bone Mortar or Mortar Nutshells, which referred to a device for cracking nuts. The creek [longer than many rivers] was such an important artery in the early settlement of the area that it gave its name to Kinchafoonee County, which was later changed to Webster County.

Flint River Diving Trees, Meriwether County

Most of us who have grown up swimming in rivers and creeks are familiar with rope swings tied to trees that have a good reach over the waterway, and occasionally, we see impromptu ladders added to make the climb to the top easier. I shot these several years ago near the Meriwether County Landing on the Flint River and I think they had more steps than any I’ve seen.

I really didn’t know what to call them other than “diving trees”. They’re really more for jumping than diving, especially when the rivers are low. I don’t think there’s any consensus as to an official term but they’re a thing down here in southern Georgia and I thought these two were perfect examples.

Nails Creek, Franklin County

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, Rabun County

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.

House Creek Boils, Wilcox County

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.

Ken Fuller

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.

Augusta Canal Headgates, 1840s & 1870s, Columbia County

Augusta Canal gatehouse, headgates, and locks.

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.

Diversion Dam and Savannah River Rapids

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.

Augusta Canal just below the headgates

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

Settingdown Creek, Forsyth County

Nice views of Settingdown Creek, an historic tributary of the Etowah River can be had from Poole’s Mill Park. The name of the creek is officially Settingdown, but variants over time include Settendown [most commonly], and Sitting Down. In his landmark book, Georgia Place Names, Kenneth Krakow wrote: [It] was called this because [Chief Setten Down] allowed some of the white settlers to “set down” and live peaceably near his village. The village called Settendown was located on this stream, four miles northwest of Cumming.

Little is known of the creek’s Cherokee namesake, Chief Setten Down. According to the book Cry of the Eagle: History and Legends of the Cherokee Indians and their Buried Treasure by Forest C. Wade: He had a home on the south side of Settendown Creek in the present Matt community about one mile from Matt on the Matt and Cumming Highway. The chief was named after the creek on which he lived. Chief Settendown had three sons. Two were named Nickel and Tassel Sucker, and the name of the third is yet to be discovered by the author…The chief and his group were one of the many small tribes that comprised the whole of the Hightower Indians.

Gale Force, Darien

This photo was made circa 2011. The shrimp boats are still the biggest attraction for visitors to Darien. The Gale family has been involved in shrimping these waters for generations.

Hobo’s Grave, Woodbine

Hoboes were ubiquitous characters in the American landscape of the late 19th and early-mid 20th centuries. They were often depicted as bums and were the bane of the railroad police at various times, but many were simply vagabonds who had fallen on hard times and ostensibly began their journeys in search of work. Local legend holds that one such hobo, Campbell Johnston (24 January 1874-15 December 1905), fell from a train one night and died at this site. Local officials took care of his burial and his headstone was donated by the Woodmen of the World. It seems odd that such a character would have been afforded this memorial, and therefore, his story would be fascinating to track down.

The gravesite is located within the Satilla River Waterfront Park.