Spring moved twice
The spring at Blue Springs State Park actually moved by itself to two other locations before finally settling in at the current location. Some oldtimers remembered that the spring first appeared north of the highway approximately 300 yards from its present site.
But suddenly the spring dried up and reappeared just south of the highway at the west end of the Choctawhatchee river bridge. The spring was then improved and made into a swimming pool.
Blue Springs State Park, Barbour County, Alabama
The Hotel drew crowds of visitors
Blue Springs in Barbour County, Alabama has always been famous for its great natural spring and pool, which drew great crowds of visitors to the Blue Springs hotel and cottages, seeking the pleasures of a watering place and the benefits of the curative powers of its water.
The pool is about 35 feet deep and into his pool flows a cold stream of water that spouts up and continually flows into this stream that empties into the Choctawhatchee River.
Blue Springs pool
Blue Springs Pool (Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Population grew to almost two dozen families
In 1890, Mr. Harrison built a small hotel and the population grew to almost two dozen families. In the early days, men and women were not permitted to bathe together in the pool.
The women’s bathing garments were long-sleeved all-over bathing suits with long black cotton stockings and bathing shoes. They went to the pool but would not enter the water as long as a man was within sight. “After they splashed around awhile in the sixty-seven-degree water, they all came out together and returned to the hotel, then the men went to the pool.
Some strange occurred in the old lime sink
Some people remember when Mr. Harrison closed the gate to the pool in order to raise the water level but something strange occurred in the old lime sink, owned by J. T. E. Whigham, located two hundred yards away. The water in the lime sink raised itself to the same level as that in Mr. Harrison’s spring pool. When the water was ditched from the lime sink to the river nearby, Mr. Harrison’s pool dried up and the spring bubbled up in the lime sink, which then became a pool occupying “an area about 25 feet in diameter.”
Mr. Whigham built the Blue Springs Hotel in 1900. He added additional rooms two years later to increase the number of rooms to twenty-eight and built a modern bathhouse and a dance hall. Frank O. Deese of Ozark, Alabama, managed the hotel during the summer of 1901.
Fried chicken was served everyday
Other managers were Hill Pearce of Clayton, Mrs. A. J. Locke of Eufaula, D. B. Easterling, Lawson Whigham of Headland, Mr. Renfroe of Ariton, J. A. McRae of Louisville and Mrs. Milligan. His hotel was a popular retreat during the summer months. A room and three meals a day cost $1.00.
“Fried chicken was served every day, and the bow-and-pitcher hotel was full from June first until the middle of September. Because of the limited number of rooms in the hotel, families began pitching tents near the pool. At times, there were fifteen to twenty tents set up under the shade trees. A few families built small cottages there.
In 1913, Mr. Whigham installed concrete around the sides of the pool, and opened a small pool for children. The large pool remained in operation until about 1938. The hotel was closed in 1924.
It was a popular place to hold speaking engagements for politicians
Around Blue Springs, resided some of the most prominent politicians of the County. During campaigns, it was a popular place to hold the speakings and candidates were always sure of getting together more listeners at Blue Springs than most any other place in the County.
Many barbecues and picnics were held there with many of the distinguished politicians and speakers in the 188’s and 1890’s. At a largely attended Convention, Henry W. Hilliard once said, “Alabama is divided into three parts, North Alabama, South Alabama and Barbour County. The 4th of July each year was known in the area at “Blue Springs Day.” Many family squabbles took place there on the 4th of July.
For many years, Confederate soldiers from all parts of the South, held reunions at Blue Springs in the month of July. “The people of the community furnished lunch to those who attended. Also during July the horse traders in the area annually held three-day meetings to trade horses and enjoy the Blue Springs hospitality. Often the crowd at Blue Springs for a single day was estimated at one thousand.”
An old cemetery is in the area
Philip Johnston was a resident of Blue Springs who had lived in the County since 1822. He attended the first Court held in the County and was a member of the first grand jury. He married early in life and became the father of ten children. His wife died and he remained a widower for 15 years. At the age of 60, he married a young woman of 22 to whom was born 9 children. He lived into the 1930’s.
Spring Hill is an old cemetery in the area.
A historic marker is located east of Blue Springs on Bethel Road .8 mile south of Highway 10 that states the following:
Organized and constituted April 11, 1835. A committee called brethren John Tew and Solomon Sikes as presbyters. The presbyters, finding the brethren orthodox in faith, constituted a church which they named Bethel. Founders migrated from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia to the Blue Springs Community. The church was housed in a log or frame building, 1835-1962, which was bricked in 1962. The fellowship hall and baptistery were built in 1972. Some elders were: M. W. Helms; Aaron Helms, served 30-40 years; W. M. Baxley; L. H. Stucky; S. W. Etheridge; R. K. Blackshear; Thomas McGowan; C. L. Waldrop; F.A. Averette, Jr., served 10 years; George Vickers; Casey Houston and Fred Griffith.
The Blue Springs School was first established in 1920 on land donated by Henry H. Sheppard. The lumber for the school was donated by citizens of the community and prepared at A. S. Knight’s sawmill.
The schools, Old Bethel, Anderson and old Blue Springs were consolidated to form the new school which opened in 1921. The first trustees were Dr. J. D. McLaughlin, Chairman; N. B. Parmer; G. C. Reeder and A. F. Scarborough.
Now an Alabama State Park
Blue Springs is now an Alabama State Park.
On May 23, 2013 Nerine the Arctic Mermaid and Mermaid Adella went for a swim at Blue Springs Alabama State Park.
- History of Barbour County, Alabama.
- Eufaula, Alabama 1939 by Mattie Thomas Thompson and Historic Alabama Hotels and Resorts, James Frederick Sulzby, Univ. of Alabama Press, 1989
When I was a child I splashed around (could not swim) in this beautiful icy water. Once I slipped and fell in and was rescued by my sister. Was a long time ago but shall never forget.
I enjoyed reading the history of Blue Springs, Alabama. Brought back good memories.
If you have not visited this place, you should.
need info on a Roxie Watson Sheppard who had a hotel in Blue Spring in early 19 hundred and also her husbands name
Most sources are included at the end of the articles.
Hey Donna. This is Kevin Jones. The Marketing guy for the Alabama State Parks. We would like to post this article to our website and FB page. Would you grant us permission to do that? We would credit you of course. Please email me at my address below.
I frankly think that the second Mrs. Johnson had a real talent for maternity.
My cousin owned the pool and hotel.
Blue Springs State Park
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Mama took Hope swimming in the early 80’s. She loved it because it was so cold(this was in July). Fun place for families.
This where I learned to swim in the early 50. I was thrown off the wall into the ice water. The place to be in the summers. I doubt there was a house with air conditioning in the county.
A concrete pool was built at the state park and was later removed because everyone chose to swim in the spring.
My best memories of childhood where spent in Blue Springs at my Grandmother and Papa’s home right up from the park on the main drag. Their names where Ellis”Juicy” English and Bernice English. The English family lived there in the same home up until my Grandmother was older and could not manage the home alone. My cousin’s Patsy and Herman Bush still live across the road from Grandmothers home. I miss the life I had there the most. Growing up in a Mayberry-like town, swimming all day until the park closes at sunset and the home cooked meals my Grandmother cooked for us. I will be 52 in February and I still long for those days. It is and will always be my home. When I can’t sleep at night, I just close my eyes and go back to Grandmothers house.
JTE Whigham was my 3rd Great Uncle. I have a very detailed history of Blue Springs and how it all came about. I have always been fascinated by the story! I have listened to your podcasts about Blue Springs and the history along highway 10 as I had many ancestors in the area. One thing of note about these podcasts…Clio is pronounced “Cly-oh”, not “Clee-oh” Keep up the good work!
My grandfather graduated from Blue Springs Consolidated High School in 1924, does anyone have information on what happened to this school? We believe he also may have taught there for a few years, his name was Franklin Dykes. We have found the historic marker above but no more information. Any ideas?
Been there…very nice some years back…nice campground and clean…pool was cool and clean…water running through constantly…
Maybe that means that Spring Villa in Lee County might come back to us one day…