Crystal Lake (AKA Crystal Beach).

Article done by Brian Brown in April/10/2014

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 he harbored a runaway slave on his property, but his 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 historically a pond of normal size but a sinkhole reportedly swallowed the mill and filled the surrounding the area with water. In the recreational era, the water level was fed by numerous underground springs connected to the nearby Alapaha River 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 owned it for a time. 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.

IMG_0408.JPG 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.

IMG_0409-0.JPG 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.

IMG_0410-0.JPG A large modern drive-through entrance gate was added in the 1990s. I remember the ticket booth pictured below. Continue reading

WWALS moves to intervene with FERC about Sabal Trail pipeline

This legal action should reserve the right of WWALS to participate in legal hearings, file briefs on legal actions by others, or even to bring legal action. In addition to all the county and city resolutions listed here, Hamilton County, Florida also just moved to intervene.

Filed with FERC 16 December 2014 as Accession Number: 20141216-5051, “Motion to intervene and request for extension of filing deadline, by WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. under CP15-17.” Continue reading

1970s Canoe Trail FAQ

The rivers may be the same, but technology and the cast of characters have changed, as indicated by this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list from the 1970s. The acronym FAQ hadn’t been invented yet, for that matter.

This Canoe Trail FAQ is courtesy of John Leonard, Executive Director of the Southe Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC). I’ve added some links and clarifications.


  1. 300x388 One typewritten page, in 1970s Canoe Trail FAQ, by John S. Quarterman, for, 0  1979 Days to float entire trail (Alapaha) 4 days-normal water; (Withlacoochee) 3 days-normal water.

    That’s for the 83 miles of the 1970s Alapaha Canoe Trail brochures, and the 65 miles of the 1970s Canoe Guide to the Withlacoochee River Trail brochures. Those distances are shorter than the current Continue reading

Not in our county, state, or aquifer: Valdosta votes against Sabal Trail pipeline tonight

Tonight at 5:30 PM the Valdosta City Council will vote on a resolution against the Sabal Trail pipeline they discussed Tuesday at their Work Session. Valdosta added a clause about the Floridan Aquifer to the clauses already in the resolution Lowndes County passed Tuesday evening that Valdosta is supporting. Valdosta’s aquifer clause reads:

WHEREAS, the City of Valdosta has concerns regarding any potential effect the proposed pipeline or its construction might have on the Floridan aquifer, the primary source of the drinking water supply for our City, County and the south Georgia area; and

As VSU Prof. Don Thieme remarked yesterday, Continue reading

Alapaha River @ GA 135, Berrien County south of Willacoochee

300x210 There is a long sandy beach upstream from the bridge, which is a popular summer hangout for locals., in GA 135 Alapaha River access, by Bret Wagenhorst, for, 14 September 2014 There is a long sandy beach upstream from the bridge, which is a popular summer hangout for locals.

Bret Wagenhorst took these pictures 14 September 2014.

See also Alapaha River Water Trail. Continue reading

Alapaha River access at Riverside Church

300x229 Riverside Church, in Alapaha River access at Riverside Church, by Bret Wagenhorst, 14 September 2014 Nine miles south of Willacoochee on GA 135 and twelve miles east of Nashville on GA 76, which turns into Riverside Road as it crosses GA 135, is this traditional put-in for the Alapaha River. However, it is not clear that access is public, so we can’t recommend it unless that is clarified. Continue reading

Canoeing Guide to the Withlacoochee River c. 1979

300x327 Map, in Canoe Guide to the Withlacoochee River Trail, by John S. Quarterman, for, 0  1979 Including both Florida and Georgia, a second river got map and guide attention back in the 1970s.

This Withlacoochee River guide is courtesy of John Leonard, Executive Director of the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC).

I would speculate that it is the most recent of the three guides posted thus far, because the Continue reading

Little Alapaha River

Probably the least-known tributary of the Alapaha River, the Little Alapaha River is so shy it disappears underground between Jennings and Jasper, Florida.

The Little Alapaha River arises in Echols County, Georgia, just before it flows into Hamilton County, Florida, where it falls into a sinkhole west of Jasper, briefly reappearing before vanishing again. Theoretically it is a tributary of the Alapaha River, but it is not clear the waters of the Little Alapaha River ever reach the Alapaha River aboveground. Like the Alapaha River, the Little Alapaha’s sinkhole disappearance happens at the Cody Scarp. Chris Graham found this very interesting reference, Continue reading

Cleanup on Alapaha River near Jasper, FL: WWALS Outing 2014-12-20

The December WWALS Outing is a cleanup on the Alapaha River on private land near Jasper, Hamilton County, Florida, at 10AM Saturday December 20th 2014. This is an area of the river people boat past on the Alapaha River Water Trail.

Most WWALS outings are open to the public. However, since this one is on private land, WWALS membership is required, and please contact for directions. Also please bring gloves, bags, and warm clothes. The landowner will provide lunch.

If you’re not a WWALS member, you can join online or mail in a membership form with a check.


Alapaha River rainy season?

Veteran boater Bret Wagenhorst asked:

300x214 Alapaha, GA 02316000, in Alapaha River gauge heights over time, by John S. Quarterman, for, 1 December 2014 Is there a defined “rainy season” on the Alapaha? I have seen the water high in December, March, July, and once even in September.

Good question!

300x214 Irwinville, GA 02315920, in Alapaha River gauge heights over time, by John S. Quarterman, for, 1 December 2014 Looking at the record high water levels for the gauges, they’re all in April, March, February, or January.

Also, the only January one is for Irwinville, the farthest upstream, which also had its highest ever in February with that January high only slightly lower.

300x214 Statenville, GA 02317500, in Alapaha River gauge heights over time, by John S. Quarterman, for, 1 December 2014 Downstream, Continue reading