Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lake Martin

Alabama is a beautiful state.  You have beaches, farmland, rolling hills, mountains, rivers...and lakes....lots and lots of lakes.  

One lake that is enormously popular is Lake Martin.  This lake is located in Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa counties and is not to be confused with the equally popular Logan Martin Lake.  These two lakes do not share the same water source and are located about 90 miles from one another.

Lake Martin gets its water from the Tallapoosa river.  Its maximum length is 31 miles with an average depth of 41 feet but a maximum depth of 150 feet.  It boasts 743 miles of shoreline.

The Martin powerhouse is used to generate electricity for the Alabama Power Company. Construction on the damn began in 1923 and was completed in 1926 creating what was at the time, the largest man made body of water in the entire world.  Originally known as Cherokee Bluffs, for the geological formation upon which it was built, the name was changed in 1936 to honor Thomas Martin, then President of the Alabama Power Company.

There's never a shortage of things to do when at Lake Martin.  Fishing, swimming, boating, skiing and hiking are just a few of the pleasures afforded visitors and residents alike.  There are festivals scattered throughout the year.

Aquapalooza Festival

One of the most popular attractions of the lake are the islands.  Listed below are the main islands.

  • Chimney Rock Island - Chimney Rock Island has long been a famous landmark on Lake Martin. Its name came from a tall rock resembling a chimney that protrudes from the top of the island.

  • Acapulco Rock Island - Acapulco Rock Island is adjacent to Chimney Rock Island at the Tallapoosa River Gorge. It is often mistaken for Chimney Rock.

  • Doctor's Island - So named because a group of doctors used the island as a base camp to fish. Their camp was destroyed by fire a few years ago. (no photo's)
  • Goat Island - Goat Island is north of Martin Dam. It has become the residence for a family of goats.  Everyone is welcome to visit the island.  However, no dogs or guns are allowed on Goats Island....for obvious reasons.

  • Graveyard Island - A small county graveyard from before the construction of Martin Dam is located on what is now a tiny island in Lake Martin. About 30 by 30 yards (27 m) around, it is in the Bay Pine area.

  • Real Island - Not an island or distinct community, residents named it for "Real Island Road," which runs through it, and a nearby marina. (no photo's)
  • Sand Island - Sand Island is a small island located between Willow Point and Kowaliga Marina. Over the years erosion has taken its toll on the island, but rocks have recently been placed around the island to prevent it from being completed washed away. Boats frequently park on its sandy shallow beach. It is likely the smallest island on the lake.

  • Young's Island - The Young residence (of Young's ferry) was here and was destroyed by fire in the early 1990s. The foundation remains and there are historic markers for the graves of the family's children. 

  • Weed Hill Island - Weed Hill is a small island almost directly across from the Pleasure Point Marina boat ramp. Although at one time it was much larger, erosion has reduced the landmass. (No photo's)
  • Wood's Island - Wood's Island is a larger island, connected to the mainland by a land bridge during low water times. It has several trails for hiking. It can be found at the end of Young's Ferry Rd on the West side of the lake. 

  • Wilmarth's Island- only inhabited island on the lake.

  • Neptune Island

  • Flag Island 

If you happen to get hungry while at Lake Martin try these amazing eateries:

For a sit down meal that offers everything from incredible burgers to prime rib, try the secluded Kowaliga Restaurant.  Every seat has a view of the lake.  Opened in 1953, it has been a stable of this area for decades.  Hank Williams, Jr even wrote a song about a poor lonesome wooden Indian which was about the wooden Indian that has graced this restaurant since its opening.

If you're not in the mood to have a sit down dinner.....try this floating food "truck" instead!
Tired of water related activities?  Try the Children's Harbor.  Great place for the kids to explore and the parents to relax.

Another great activity are the Jim Scott gardens.  This isn't a tourist spot even though it is a tourist attraction and anyone who misses it is missing an incredible experience.  Jim Scott has been working on his gardens for 20 years or so.  Bit by bit he has landscaped his land to hold multitudes of secrets and surprises around every bend.  He isn't a landscape professional or a horticulturist.  I honestly don't know what he did for a living.  All I've been able to find out is that he was not a professional landscape guy.  There are a minimum of 5 full time employees who help maintain this unbelievable garden.

Jim's gardens are off the beaten path on Lake Martin.  It will take a GPS and someone who's been there before to find your way but once you get's as if Heaven has been in Alabama all the time.  Unfortunately, Jim only opens his gardens to the public a couple of times a year, so missing that window of opportunity is pretty easy.

There are so many incredible pictures that I could fill this blog with them.  It was nearly impossible to choose "just a few".  Folks this is a MUST SEE.

Now that you've gotten a sneak peak at Lake Martin......put in for your vacation time and head out!  There are cabins, houses, boat slips, RV camps and campsites for rent so there's no reason not to stay for a few days!