Radium Springs Garden, originally known as Blue Spring, was used by Creek Indians, English settlers and explorers as a spot for swimming and fishing. The springs discharge 70,000 gallons of clear water every minute from an underwater cave, and the area was the home to numerous species of fish and wild animals.
Bathing in mineral water was a popular health trend of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with many believing that the waters had the power to cure a variety of ailments. When traces of radium were discovered in the water, it became the impetus for the development of a resort. Completed in 1927, the resort included a hotel (Skywater), casino, golf course, cottages, bathhouses, and walking trails. Though it was an instant success, the resort was not long-lived—it closed down in 1939, after losing its customer base during the Great Depression.
Parts of the resort opened and closed numerous times over the next several years, and locals continued to use the swimming area for decades. In 1994, Tropical Storm Alberto caused major flooding in the area and, after a second storm in 1998, the historic buildings were too damaged to repair.
The property was acquired by state and local governments, and reopened in 2010 as a historic site. The remains of the resort and gazebo have been converted to a springs entrance and a memorial to victims of a tornado. (While the structures are in place, they are painted a bright white, thus making them seem quite unlike “ruins” as the term is normally used.) There are numerous botanical gardens, walkways, and interpretive plaques to explain the history. The biggest draw remains the bright blue pool of the springs, though visitors have to be content with viewing it from the numerous observation points, as it’s no longer open for swimming.
Know Before You Go
No admission charged. The current hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.