COHUTTA, Ga. — From the quicksand-like blue clay and vigorous bubbling springs on family property here, the late Clifton Farmer was determined to create a family swimming hole.
Now, several generations of other families have found fun frolicking in the clear blue water of Farmer’s Lake since it was opened to the public in the late 1960s.
After he died in 1982, Mr. Farmer’s widow Wanda Tibbs carried on the tradition of Farmer’s Lake until last year when she turned the operation over to her daughter.
Mr. Farmer actually started work on the project in 1961 on property owned by his wife’s family. They eventually purchased 14 acres of the land for $3,000 and Mr. Farmer worked off the last $500 by plowing for his in-laws.
On Monday afternoon, with temperatures touching into the 90s, Hailey McKinney, 18, April Reeder, 21, and Alesia Cabrera, 43, all of Cleveland, Tenn., were hanging out in the shallows of Mr. Farmer’s cement-bottomed dream.
“We’re trying to get a suntan before summer’s over,” Ms. Reeder said.
NEED TO KNOW
Location: 5510 Red Clay Road, Cohutta, Ga.
Hours: Noon- 6 p.m., 7 days a week. Closed after Labor Day
Price: $5 per person during the week and $7 on weekends
The clean water and family atmosphere are some of the things that the trio said bring them to Farmer’s Lake every year.
Andrea Clark and sister Kristin Arp of Varnell, Ga., brought Mrs. Clark’s 2-year-old twins, Jim and Anna Kate, out to the lake on Monday. Ms. Clark said she has been coming to Farmer’s Lake for at least a decade, and the family will keep coming this season until the lake closes up after Labor Day.
Mrs. Tibbs, 66, said she still takes a plunge in the water where her children and grandchildren learned to swim and dive.
“You talk about relaxing on these hot days,” she said.
The water in Farmer’s Lake — because it’s spring-fed — is a chilly high 50s. At its deepest part, the lake is 15 feet.
Ms. Tibbs said there are many people who come to the lake to swim each summer for the last three decades, like Danny Carr of Dalton.
“His mother brought him and now he’s bringing his kids,” Mrs. Tibbs said.
She noted that when the 1/2-acre lake opened to the public, the Farmer family only charged 25 cents for a day of swimming.
The area was once known as Sandy Springs, and people often referred to the wet blue clay found around the area as quicksand. Mrs. Tibbs said many cows got lost in the mire before Mr. Farmer turned it into a swimming lake. He almost lost a bulldozer during the lake’s construction when it got stuck up to the roof in the blue muck, she said.
Long before the cement was poured and rest rooms and a game room were added, Cherokee Indians believed that the water had healing powers, Mrs. Tibbs said.
She still recognizes that the lake was special to the Cherokee and she lets Cherokee visitors swim for free.
“It was theirs before it was ours,” she said.