Radium Springs Gardens

Blue Hole


Useful Information

Location: 2501 Radium Springs Rd., Albany GA 31705.
(31.526293, -84.136534)
Open: All year Tue-Sat 9-17, Sun 9-13.
[2022]
Fee: free.
[2022]
Classification: KarstKarst Spring KarstVauclusian Spring
Light: n/a
Dimension: P=265,000 l/m, T=20 °C.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:  
Address: Radium Springs Gardens, 2501 Radium Springs Rd., Albany GA 31705, Tel: +1-229-317-4760.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1920s casino built overlooking the springs.
1925 radium discovered in the water.
1939 casino closed due to the Great Depression.
1994 casino severely damaged when the river flooded due to Tropical Storm Alberto.
1998 casino severely damaged when the river flooded.
2003 damaged casino demolished.
2010 declared a historic site.

Description

Radium Springs Gardens is one of the seven natural wonders of Georgia, one of those stupid rankings which actually make no sense. More interesting is, that it is a karst spring which is the largest natural spring in Georgia. It has a production of 265,000 l/m and is fed by an extensive underwater cavern system. Originally it was named Blue Springs, because of the deep blue water. An obvious and quite common effect of limestone rich karst water. The spring is only 300 m from Flint River, but its water flows parallel to the river for 800 m until it finally turns right and flows into the larger river. The spring itself is also rather unique, right after the outflow the river turn around 180° and flows into the opposite direction.

But that's not the last weird fact about this spring. In 1925 traces of radium were found in the spring water. That's the reason why it was renamed Radium Springs.

In the 1920s, a casino was built overlooking the springs and Radium Springs became a popular spa and resort. People from the northern States, which travelled to Florida by train, to spend the winter there, often stopped to swim in the springs. The water was thought to be healthful because of the radium content. The casino, not as popular anymore, was finally demolished in 2003, after it had been severely damaged in two floods, in 1994 and 1998. For some decades the term radium was quite popular, even the nearby Radium Country Club and Golf Course, which was originally designed by the famous golf course architect John Law Kerr, was named after this element.

There is actually no known medical benefit of radium. On the other side, while it is actually a radioactive element which produces radioactivity, its amount in the water is so low that it is actually not more dangerous than flying a plane or skiing in the black forest. In other words, slightly higher than normal natural radiation, but not higher than other areas with higher natural radiation. Nevertheless, bathing in the spring is not popular anymore. Actually it is not allowed anymore.