The nearly 350 mile long river (actual distance is 212 miles, but the river twists and turns) rises in central Georgia as groundwater seepage, flows under the runways of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on a course that washes over the red dirt of rural Georgia, with its waters eventually ending up in the Gulf of Mexico.
Lake Seminole is formed at its confluence with the Chattahoochee River at Bainbridge, plus it’s also impounded approximately 15 miles upstream from Albany to form the Lake Blackshear reservoir.
Albany is home to one of the most beautiful downtowns in the country, proving that good things can be born in the face of tragedy.
The highest flood in 500 years devastated southwest Georgia during the tropical storm, Alberto, in the summer of 1994. Albany was the worst hit, with the Flint River cresting at 43 feet, 23 square miles of the county underwater, and 23,000 residents evacuated. In 1996 the city conceived the Albany Riverfront Masterplan and reconstruction began.
Front Street on the Flint River—Downtown Albany
Front Street, as you might expect, runs along the river, just as it did back in 1836 when Nelson Tift, a businessman, settled the area. At that time cotton was the key crop, and it was easily transported by riverboats on the Flint. Tift, seeing the potential for income, had Horace King, a former slave, build a toll bridge over the river in 1858.
Today, Albany’s Welcome Center is situated in its historic Bridge House.
Indeed, redevelopment in downtown Albany focuses on the Flint River, beginning with the Bridge House. The RiverFront Park & Turtle Grove Play Park, right beside the Bridge House, draws locals and visitors alike to experience the Flint with its walking trails, or to picnic on the river bank and enjoy the scenery.
Surprisingly, there’s an amazing display of fall colors in the array of trees in Albany—red Bradford pear, brilliant oranges and yellows of maples and sycamores, along with the greenery of Cyprus, magnolia, and hundred foot loblolly pines.
The Flint RiverQuarium
The Flint RiverQuarium, one of the newest features of the downtown attractions, is one of just a few open-air aquariums in the world.
Take a field trip to the Flint RiverQuarium with this short YouTube video:
Alligators, several species of turtles and various other creatures enjoy the well developed natural habitat of water, plants and trees that viewers see through tall glass walls. The 175,000 gallon Blue Hole features more than 100 kinds of fish and creatures native to Southwest Georgia. Inside, displays provide information on the ecology and history of the Flint River and its waters.
Next door to the Flint RiverQuarium is the Adventure Center, which houses the Imagination Theater. Gazing up at the screen, which is three stories tall and four stories wide, it’s easy to see where the theater got its name! The theater hosts a variety of shows, many of them nature based and often in 3D.
Take a quick trip through Albany with this YouTube video!
Visit Albany, Georgia
Online at: http://visitalbanyga.com/
My thanks to the Albany, Georgia, CVB for making my visit to Albany possible! If you’re visiting Albany, Georgia, and stopping for a meal, let me recommend the River Front Bar-B-Q – http://guide2travel.ca/2013/05/quirky-food-stops-river-front-bar-b-q-albany-georgia/
This article was first published in Heartland Boating (as part of a longer article) in 2009