Warm Springs, Ga


From Litt
le White ...

Here in Georgia, we have had the honor of three modern era presidents calling the state home. One, Jimmy Carter, was born here. A second, Woodrow Wilson, practiced law in Atlanta. The final one died here. I visited the home away from the White House for one of the greatest Presidents in United States History, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

About two hours outside of the ATL, Southeast on 85, lies the pretty little town of Warm Springs, Georgia. The town and FDR's relationship to the city were immortalized in the HBO movie, starring Kenneth Branagh, Warm Springs. While I was there, I was struck by how fortunate we were as a nation, to have a President forced by conditions, namely a paralyzing polio condition, to spend significant time among the people. Lord, we could use that now.

I sort of wish I didn't have to do this, but a short (and incomplete list) of FDR's accomplishments must be listed:

1. Only four time elected President
2. Presided over the reconstruction of the Country during and exiting the depression.
3. Created the Securities and Exchange Commission protecting our investments
4. Created the TVA, modernizing agriculture and creating power generation in many locales and the Rural Electrification Act, which brought affordable electricity to areas that were unserved prior.
5. Creation of the Social Security System, the most successful program in the history of U.S. governance.
6. Rallied American Forces and People's Spirits through the bombing of American Ship's at Pearl Harbor and the Great War vs. Nazi Germany.

The town is quaint and small. I was only a little disappointed because the Warm Springs of Warm Springs were listed as one of the,Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia, but they really weren't accessible for viewing. The main springs are still being used by the Roosevelt Institute for Rehabilitation and on hospital property and it would be unfair to the disabled folks to be inundated by gawking visitors.

The Little White House charged a small $7 dollar admission. I thought it was worth it. The first museum had several displays about FDR's reforms and some about Eleanor, and an interesting forked family tree, linking Franklin to his cousin, and fellow President, Teddy. The most fascinating feature was one of FDR's custom fitted automobiles, designed to allow a Polio victim to navigate a vehicle completely by hand. Also, there was a complete wall of canes, mostly handmade, given to the President by fans and followers who had no idea how serious his condition was.

Leaving the First Museum, one can walk up a tribute to the fifty states, each carved out of stone native to that state. Then you approach the White house compound.

The compound consists of three buildings, the main building (the Little White House), Servants Quarters and Garage, and the Guest house. The tour guides are older folk who personify the stereotype of Southern Hospitality in the best possible way. They tell in great detail the story of the last days of FDR.

Inside the Main Building, the highlight is the actual chair that Roosevelt was sitting in when he had the Cerebral Hemorrhage that ended his life. His final words were reportedly, "I have a terrific headache." Additionally, you can see his bed, desk, fireplace, and various other artifacts of the Great President.

FDR was having a portrait done at the time of his demise. That unfinished portrait is hanging in the final museum by the entrance. It is haunting considering the circumstance in which it was created.

The folks at the Site will gladly give you directions to the Rehabilitation facilities public showcase, where you can learn about what created the Warm Springs and many of their rehabilitative techniques. You will be completely enthralled by the swimming pool facilities. Primarily, understanding that they are the very same pools in which the former President swam among the people, and secondly because they are built completely on top of one of the fabled natural springs. Unfortunately, the pools are drained to help preserve them, but there is a simple fountain where you can touch and feel the mineral rich water. The temperature of the Water was 86 degrees on February 20th of this year. For a small donation, you can buy a bottle to fill yourself and take home as a souvenir.

The town was mostly shut down on Monday. But there are quaint little shops that bustle on the weekends, in an area known as Bullochsville. Nearby is the Pine Mountain Trail (Wolfden Loop), Dowdell's Knob (FDR's favorite Picnic Spot), and Callaway Gardens.

1 comment:

  1. My husband, 10-year old son and I made a day trip to Warm Springs on 9/28/08. We were able to obtain free pases and parking permits from the public library through the Get Outdoors Georgia program. We visited the Little White House, the pool museum and hiked the Dowdell Knob loop trail at Pine Mountain. We ate lunch at The Bulloch House.

    The Little White House has been greatly improved since I was there as a child. A new multi-million dollar museum with video and audio presentations and displays of many collected items is impressive. The house is still just as it was. The Unfinished Portrait is now housed in a separate building for its preservation along with the Finished Portrait. Tour guides were knowledgeable and friendly.

    We decided to go to the pool museum and were pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be very informative and we learned about the history of the springs. I believe we learned more at this site than anywhere else that day. Our guide was outstanding. She was able to explain many things to our son without talking down to him. We brought our own water bottle and filled it from the spring. The water had a silky texture.

    Before out hike, we went to The Bulloch House for lunch. We arrived at 12:30 on a Sunday. The parking lot looked packed but we only had to wait 5 minutes for a table. The Bulloch House is an old house that has been expanded and is used as a restaurant. My husband and son had the buffet (fried chicken, chicken and dressing, ham and macaroni casserole, green beans, butter beans, turnips, fried green tomatoes, salad, biscuits, rolls, etc. I had a grilled chicken plate with two veggies and it was good.

    For our hike on Pine Mountain we decided to so the Dowdell Knob loop (4.3 mi.) Dowdell Knob was vistied often by FDR and it was his favorite spot on the mountain. It's easily reached by car. A life-size statue of him is there and the grill he used is still there. The Dowdell Knob loop trail is made up of the Pine Mountain Trail and Boottop Trail. A map of the trail is at the site along with a guestbook for signing. A brochure of points of interest along the trail is provided at the trailhead. The sights were marked and easily seen. The trail is pretty rocky with a good mix of level, uphill and downhill. Good walking shoes are a must. I wore a pair of hiking sandals and was fine. At one point, the trail croses a small stream, which is nice. Our hike took about 2 1/2 hours.

    This itinerary was made for a great day trip.

    Kathy E.



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