Tourists passing through the drowsy little village of Blue Springs would never imagine that it was once a popular summer resort. Blue Springs is famous for its natural spring and pool, which for many years drew large crowds of visitors to the Blue Springs Hotel and cottages there, seeking the pleasures of a watering place and the curative powers of its water.
Blue Springs, on the west bank of the Choctawhatchee River, is seven miles from Clio, thirty-two miles from Eufaula, and eighty-five miles southeast of Montgomery. One of the interesting phases of this community's past is "The Great Summer Resort," built around a spring. This spring has been a movable, whimsical one. It poured out its pure water in two other locations before it settled in its present spot.
A few of the old timers remember, the spring first appeared north of the highway, approximately three hundred yards from its present site. Suddenly, it dried up and reappeared just south of the highway at the west end of the Choctawhatchee River Bridge. Here it was improved and made into a small swimming pool.
In 1890, Mr. Harrison built a small hotel in the village, with a population of about two-dozen families. He undertook to create a summer resort on the spot, with the water the attracting feature. Visitors frequented the watering place. When Mr. Harrison closed the gate to raise the water level, something strange occurred in an old lime sink located about two hundred yards away; the water raised itself to the same level as that in Mr. Harrison's spring pool.
J. T. E. Whigham owned the lime sink, the site of the present pool. When the water was ditched from the lime sink to the river nearby, Mr. Harrison's pool promptly dried up, and the spring rapidly bubbled up in Mr. Whigham's lime sink. The sink became a pool occupying an area about twenty-five feet in diameter.
In 1900, Mr. Whigham built the Blue Springs Hotel. Two years later additional rooms were added to increase the number to twenty-eight. Frank O. Deese of Ozark, Alabama, managed the hotel during the summer of 1901. Subsequent managers included Hill Pearce of Clayton, Mrs. A. J. Locke of Eufaula, D. B. Easterling, Lawson Whigham of Headland, a Mr. Renfroe of Anton, J. A. McRae of Louisville, and Mrs. Milligan.
The area around Blue Springs was the home of several prominent Barbour County politicians. At election time, there was much excitement and interest there. Blue Springs was a popular place to hold the "speakings" and candidates always attracted large numbers of listeners.
The Fourth of July each year was known as "Blue Springs Day" and afforded many pleasurable times - and some not so pleasurable. It was here that family squabbles were often disposed of. Rarely did a Fourth of July pass without some sort of fight, seemingly a part of the agenda for the day.
For years Confederate soldiers held reunions at Blue Springs in the month of July. The people of the community furnished lunch. The soldiers came from all parts of the South. Also during July horse traders in the area held three-day meetings to trade horses and rely the hospitality. Often the crowd at Blue Springs for a single day was estimated at one thousand.
In the earlier days of the resort, men and women were not permitted to bathe together in the pool. The women, whose bathing garments consisted of long-sleeved all-over bathing suits with long black stockings and bathing shoes, went to the pool but would not enter the water as long as a man was within sight. After the women splashed around awhile in the sixty-eight degree water, they came out and returned to the hotel. Then it was time for the men to enjoy the pool. Later, Mr. Whigham built a modern bathhouse.
Mr. Whigham's Blue Springs 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 bowl-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 their tents near the pool. At times there were as many as fifteen to twenty tents set up under the shade trees. A few families built small cottages there. The majority of the patronage at Blue Springs were families from the nearby towns of Eufaula, Clayton, Louisville, Clio, Brundidge, Troy, Ozark, Abbeville, and Headland.
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. Since that time it had fallen into disrepair. However, swimmers continued to swim there for several more years.
The hotel was closed in 1924. The dance hall and the bathhouse have been removed. The once-famous resort, with its gaiety, had almost disappeared, except for the pure blue water. Then in September 1963, Governor George C. Wallace designated Blue Springs as a state park. Today, visitors can enjoy the cool clear waters once again.