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'It's kind of fascinating': Magnolia Springs in Millen offers nature and history

Go towards the back of the park and stroll onto a boardwalk to see the spring, and you'll also see birds, bass, turtles and a few alligators.

MILLEN, Ga. — Magnolia Springs is near Millen, Georgia and not far from Statesboro.

Ranger Justin Bettross calls this place home.

"I think people are kind of shocked because they're not used to seeing a spring that flows that much water and that blue and that clear is in Georgia you usually think Florida," he described.

Credit: Suzanne Lawler

Go towards the back of the park and stroll onto a boardwalk to see the spring, and you'll also see birds, bass, turtles and a few alligators.

"It's estimated the spring pumps about seven million gallons of water every single day, so that's a pretty huge number," Jason calculated.

The gators are a draw but birdwatchers will love this place.

"Wood storks, we've got swallowtail kites here, white ibis, great egrets, herons -- just a lot of variety compared to a lot of other parks you're not going to find," Jason listed.

The birds may sit on the water but you can't swim in this area because of the ancient reptiles..

Justin says they've got about 20 of the gators  that enjoy the spring and the lush green grass to catch some rays.

Credit: Suzanne Lawler

"We've got one mother gator that's been here for a decade and she has hatchlings every single year, so it's kind of fascinating," he said.

The water and nature put on a show, but there is a lot of history here.

They have a replica of the Lawton Stockade where Confederates held Union prisoners.

"This prison was built to alleviate the overcrowding at Andersonville," Jason said.

Andersonville had problems with dysentery.

Lawton didn't have that worry with the natural spring providing plenty of clean drinking water.

"This prison was only in operation for six weeks," Jason stated. "The Confederates knew Sherman's plan was to come to Millen so they evacuated everyone days before he arrived."

Sherman burned the prison down but remnants remained.

A little over a decade ago, Uncle Sam and Georgia Southern University came together to unearth things like old boots, buttons and a union cap.

"They used airplanes and they had infrared and examined it from above and later they came and did the digs in 2010," he said.

Justin says it's the most recent major Civil War discovery.

If you want to discover Magnolia springs you can swim or fish in the stocked lake.

They've got kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats.

Spend the night in one of the newly renovated cabins or just take in the diverse natural scenery.

"When you think state parks a lot of people go to the mountains or the coast but there are a lot of parks in between that are really nice as well," Jason described.

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