Tom West



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Radium Springs Creek contained every aspect of the allure of the South Georgia terrain. Tom West (Class of 1965) returned to visit as an adult and wrote the following:


    My excitement rises as I approach the powdery white sand lane, the sand giving way under my wheels as I round a bend. The sun is hot and the air thick. The Cicadas are unbelievably loud, their chorus rising and falling as I pass the live oaks at the waters edge. I know that I could sneak a peek of the water between the trees but I don’t, wanting to save the delicious anticipation until the very last. [I have always experienced that delicious sense of anticipation while exploring]

My excitement turns to giddiness as I slide to a stop, grab my equipment and leave the car to bake in the sun. Even now I don’t take it all in, as if a stolen glance, imperfect in its timing or scope might spoil the full effect. I wait until I run down the path to the hard packed clay area near the bank to take a look. First reviewing the hard clay, the bunches of dry grass, the trees to note any changes and only after assurance that nothing has changed, at least not in this spot, do I look at the water. The water then and now is aqua marine and crystal clear. Dark green lily pads surround buttressed, massive bald cypress trees.  The white sand bottom contrasts with patches of amazingly green “water weed”. The creek here is about 200 feet wide and probably averages about 4 feet deep.  The water is a constant bracing 68 degrees as it emerges from Radium Springs. It warms up perhaps to 70 degrees as it makes its way one and a half miles, to the Flint River. At this point we are about a quarter mile down stream from the springs. What I do in the creek is skin dive. The water is so clear that there is unlimited visibility and there is a lot to see: schools of shad fish whose scales look like quick silver, turtles, eels, cat fish, sucker fish, and giant carp. As kids we would skin dive, spear fish, drift down the creek on a gigantic tractor tire inner tube, climb around on the sluice gates.  The creek is partially dammed where it enters the Flint River. The dam is made up of wooden beams set into a sluice gate under a small bridge.  These beams can be raised and lowered to control the water level in order to provide a swimming area at the springs.  The dam is not large; the sluice gates are only about 6 feet high. 


       The fond memory of the powdery white sandy lanes was shared by his brother as well.  They recently went on a canoe-camping trip in southeast Georgia and stopped at a camp area where the roads were all of that same powdery white sand.  His brother noted that it reminded him of that lane near the Radium Springs Creek. He didn’t remember ever before discussing how he felt about that lane with his brother or anyone else for that matter. You just don’t go around effusing about powdery sand lanes, at least not in South Georgia as a teenager in 1960. 

It was a magical place.


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