I am still collecting information about this but will use these photos as place holders.
Some older photo I found on the web back in January.
Bone Pond is a place known to many of South Georgia residents, well those over the age of 20 that is. Crystal Lake as it is known by the majority of those who remember it was an oasis in Irwin County Georgia. This natural beauty operated for nearly 70 years before it was closed to the public in the summer of 1998. There’s tons of lore surrounding this place; let’s see what we can find.
Crystal Lake begins it’s infamous tale with a gentleman named William (Willis) Jackson Bone. Willis Bone was born in Taylor County, Georgia. While living in Albany in 1858, the tensions what would lead to the Civil War began to escalate. Realizing he happened to be of proper age to be drafted, Bone bought a steam engine and equipment to build a grist mill and set out to become a miller. At this time in history, all millers were exempt from going to war. He hauled his equipment by ox from Albany to Irwinville and built a steam corn mill on the bank of what would be known as Bone Pond.(1) When Bone first arrived at the lake it was as beautiful as it ever was though much smaller than in it was in it’s hay-day as a summer getaway. The pond was hundreds of feet across and fed by a “bottomless” spring. What better place to start a new life? Being an “outsider” and abolitionist however, Bone did not have a very good reputation in the area. He was accused of cutting the dams of competing mills and abusing the local elders, but it wasn’t until a failed recovery of a runaway slave that Bone’s fate truely caught up with him. Some report this incident began while one of Bone’s neighbors, Justice of the Peace Jack Walker, was rounding up his hogs and stumbled across a runaway slave (Tony) Bone was harbouring.(1) Some report that Walker came looking for Tony after he noticed footprints with a missing toe(2). Either way, Walker, while detaining the salve on the ground, was shot from behind by Bone who found the men tussling. Bone pleaded not guilty to the charges but his fate was sealed by the testimony of his son Zachary.(1) In 1865, Bone was hung on the same banks he built his mill on and his family was forced from the area back to Taylor County.(1) Bone’s mill house remained on the banks of Bone Pond until 1910 when it’s waters rose enough to lift it off of it’s foundation. The property was soon bought by Dr. D.L. Story of Ashburn. Not much is known about the property during this time as the only written information from the 30’s seem to focus on the Bone’s tragedy. It is written that in the late 1920’s, two men by the names of D.H. Davis and Will Thomas threw over 300 feet of line into the “hole” at the bottom of Crystal Lake without ever hitting the bottom. In the 1940’s the property was purchased by a Mr. Leon Lewis and Jehu Fletcher. These two gentlemen began developing the area into a getaway to share with others. They began building pavilions with concessions. The first pavilion unfortunately burned down in the late 1940’s but was rebuilt bigger and better. In 1953 Leon Lewis passed away and his family bought out Jehu Fletcher’s half and sold the property. I am unsure if Robert Adcock of the Adcock Pecans in Tifton purchased the lake at this point in time or if there was someone in between, but in the 60’s Adcock continued Lewis and Fletcher’s efforts in developing Crystal Lake. Adcock began bringing in Palm Trees from Florida but his efforts were fruitless and to add insult to injury the spring that fed the lake quit flowing. Some speculate that it caved in while others claim the sand they brought in to form the beach was the culpritt. Either way, Crystal Lake now required another source of water so they began pumping from wells.
1. History of Irwin County – Chapter 7 – 1932 :: The Bone Pond or Crystal Lake :: [link]
2. History of Turner County – Chapter 8 – 1933 :: Beautiful Crystal Lake Has Tragic History :: [link]
3. Ancestry.com – Crystal Lake/Crystal Beach Waterpark :: [link]
4. OclillaChamber.net – Jefferson’s Gold :: [link]
5. SouthGeorgiaGenealogy.com – The Walker’s :: [link]
6. Plain Folk’s Fight: The Civil War and reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia :: [link]
So back in October I was helping a local makerSpace group set up for a 5k race down by the river. After I was through, I took the opportunity to take a few closer pictures of the remains of the base for the covered bridge that was mentioned in a previous post. (Here)
Keep in mind these braces are over 150 years old, under water most of the year.
Camera: Samsung Galaxy S2
Driving home the other day from work I passed by Tift Park and was reminded of some older pictures I had come across on the internet of it.
I then remembered a story my dad used to tell me about how Chehaw used to be there and how there was a monkey named Joe that used to throw poop at people. He also told me about how all of the animals that were too large to be moved by truck had to be walked from Tift Park to Chehaw’s current location on Phelima. So, here’s what I’ve been able to find….
Chehaw was first opened State Park in 1937 at a size of 586 acres in it’s current location on Phelima as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal plan.
The word “Chehaw” comes from a tribe of Creek Native Americans that were local to the area. In 1974 Albany and the Chehaw Wildlife Society commissioned Jim Fowler, an Albany native, to design the new wildlife area. Between 1975 and 1977, animals were moved from Tift Park Zoo in downtown Albany to Chehaw. When Chehaw opened, Laska, an asian elephant that was given to Tift Park Zoo after Don Robinson Circus’s 1952 season, was walked across town to Chehaw
“The elephant was walked across town by her beloved trainer W.T. Hill. She did not die shortly thereafter. She was able to live her last years in a larger, more peaceful environment than ever in her long life. Mr. Hill was instrumental in getting Chehaw Park started as he was the Director of the Tift Zoo and later Chehaw Park.” [info c/o Michelle Kelley]
In addition to Laska, there was also a “spitting, poop-throwing, cigarette-smoking” chimp at the Tift zoo named Joe, along with manates, Willie the spider monkey, another elephant named Daisy, and a toothless lion. In October of 1977, Chehaw Wild Animal Park officially opened to the public and Tift Zoo was closed.
Check it out. I’m pretty excited about piecing this together… So after I posted about the Broad Ave. Bridge, I jumped on eBay and searched ‘albany georgia’ looking for god knows what. One item listed was a printing of an 1885 map of Albany.
Now, one thing that stands out, especially since I just wrote about the Broad Ave Bridge being built in 1920, are the 3 bridges… I recognize the one that curves in the middle, its still there and runs up behind the RiverQuarium to the Thronateska… but whats the deal with the one that looks like the Broad Avenue bridge? This calls for a closer look…
Wow… So it appears to be the covered bridge build by Horace King. It leads right to the back of the Bridge House that is still downtown. History lesson time! In 1858 Nelson Tift commissioned Horace King to build this bridge in Albany across the Flint River. Actually, the bridge was first built for a project in Mississippi but they ran out of money so Tift had King bring it to Albany. Originally, the covered bridge was tolled (hince the bridge house), but due to the high volume of complaints from the citizens, in 1887 Tift sold the bridge to Dougherty County. The bridge was destroyed in 1897 when the Flint overflowed its banks during a flood. The photo below was taken in 1892.
Ok, so that explains that. Now, it was at that moment that I recalled another photo I ran across on the internet, and as luck would have it, saved because I wanted to give it a look in person…
And there you have it, whats left of the covered bridge. I believe I might be a bit obsessed with this town’s history at the moment, but it’s just too cool being able to piece things together and, unfortunately, possess knowledge most care too little about. I’m definitely going to check this out in person and also look into the farthest bridge in the map.