Monday, May 17, 2010
High Falls and Indian Springs: The Fall Line in middle Georgia
Work has been so tiring lately. Especially when it's getting warm in the afternoons and you're sent out on difficult missions in strange locations that aren't so welcoming. And if you want some shade and shelter from south metro Atlanta I-75 suburbia, there actually aren't many natural public spaces to choose from. However, just about halfway between Atlanta and Macon, there is a lush section along the fall line escarpment (an ancient coastline) which has two state parks, High Falls and Indian Springs. Both are within a few miles of the interstate, and have been visited/settled for hundreds of years.
The High Falls on the Towaliga River
It was an industrial town in the 1800's, a perfect location for a grist mill. Before that, it was a Creek Indian settlement. The Towaliga rises in Henry County and is mostly flat until the falls, and then it joins the Ocmulgee River just north of Macon. The elevation change is sudden and intense, and separates the upper and lower Piedmont right here. Below the falls, canoeing/kayaking are popular, one of the few locations in middle Georgia.
I arrived not long before sunset, finding the cool spray of the falls totally necessary to counter the humidity of a warm season in the Georgia piedmont. (pictured at top) Then below the falls a little hiding space on the river's edge, with lots of rabbits and other wildlife running past me really made me want to stay.
A little further from I-75 is middle Georgia's "Indian Springs," which was also a Creek settlement, then incorporated as a town by the whites, and the land around the spring and the two streams that also join there was bought by the state in 1825 as Georgia's original state park. Recognizing the importance of preserving the spring, the state has resisted offers from private companies to sell the land (for bottling/selling water, for example) because of its renowned healing properties (similar to other cases around the world of the known healing properties of spring water, and the rise and fall of the health resort industry boom in the 20th century).
The Spring House - built by the CCC in the 1930's
The first person to capitalize on the springs' resort potential, ironically, was Creek Chief William McIntosh (the park's lake is named after him). He signed two fateful Treaties of Indian Springs here with the Georgia government; the first in 1821 gave him property of this land, where he built his second plantation and a hotel. It must not have been good enough, because in 1825, he caved in to the whites' quest for the land and signed the second treaty, giving these springs, the Towaliga river and falls, the Ocmulgee basin/Macon, and the area that would become the city of Atlanta (up to the Chattahoochee), including the very spot I am sitting in right now writing this.
I was almost out of water when I arrived at the park, and there were several travelers from Macon and Atlanta who regularly come here with empty jugs and take advantage of the forever free flowing fresh water. The water smells so good here, it smells like life. Not like a truckstop sink or cooler, or surrounded by a ritzy resort.
Thank you, state of Georgia, for preserving this spot!