After a week spent neck deep in editing a book for my cousin on top of dealing with the idiocy of our governor who decided it was time to open up hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys, I really needed to “get away” Saturday morning.
So, my husband and I took my little Turbo Abarth and motored up to Magnolia Springs State Park where we had the Lime Sink Trail all to ourselves.
Magnolia Springs has always had a special place in my heart as we often drove there with my grandparents when I was a child and picnicked next to one of the springs, cooled off in the swimming holes in the torrid southern heat, and toured the little aquarium with its native snakes, fish, and turtles.
According to its history: Magnolia Springs State Park encompasses over 1,000 acres between Perkins and Millen, Georgia. The park is named after, and built around, the crystal-clear spring water that flows through the area.
During the Civil War, the area now encompassed by the park, was known as Camp Lawton. A stockade held Union soldiers captured as prisoners of war. The site was selected due to the abundant water supply. Between August and November 1864, Camp Lawton was planned, built, operated, and eventually abandoned. Despite its brief tenure, the prison held over 10,000 soldiers and was said to be the largest prison in the world at the time. The stockade was closed in November 1864, and its prisoners routed to other camps as General William T. Sherman’s army closed in during his infamous “March to the Sea.”
In 2010, archaeology teams from nearby Georgia Southern University uncovered parts of the stockade wall and artifacts from prisoners. Several of these artifacts are interpreted at the Magnolia Springs History Center located inside the park. Presently, archaeologists and historians continue to study this historic property to uncover more details about the camp and its occupants.
After the Civil War, The springs became a popular recreation destination long before the park was established. This area was used for picnics, church gatherings, reunions, and swimming for local citizens. These same citizens pushed for the development of the area for years until the park was officially created in 1939.
Like many early Georgia state parks, much of the infrastructure of Magnolia Springs was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, also known as the “CCC.” The CCC was responsible for damming the spring-fed stream to create a large swimming area for visitors, as well as building roads, a bathhouse, and other park buildings.
The land adjacent to Magnolia Springs State Park is the site of what was once the Millen National Fish Hatchery, later renamed the Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery. The fish hatchery used water from Magnolia Springs to supply 25 ponds that raised sport and endangered fish. The fish hatchery was also home to a popular aquarium where visitors could observe native and raised fish. The hatchery operated until 2010, when it was closed by the Federal Government.
These days, I would be hesitant to swim there as there are a number of alligators and water moccasins that call the swimming area their home!