God's Acre Healing Springs
Blackville, South Carolina
Every road trip needs a rest stop for refreshment -- and you probably won't find a better one than God's Acre Healing Springs, where the beverage is not only tasty, but free. And healing.
The Healing Springs earned their reputation during the Revolutionary War. Four mortally wounded British soldiers were reportedly restored to fighting health merely by drinking and bathing in the Springs (The Brits were probably fighting forces loyal to the Swamp Fox, but the whole story is a little vague). The Edisto Indians eventually sold the land for some corn, and the Healing Springs Baptist Church was built next door.
In a foresighted act of environmental stewardship, the church refused to dig a graveyard on the property so that the Springs would remain pure.
The "God's Acre" designation came much later. A small, tombstone-like monument at the Springs notes that the acre of land surrounding them was "Deeded to Almighty God" in 1944 by property owner L.P. "Lute" Boylston. This had the twin advantages of freeing the property forever from taxes (good luck collecting from God) while forcing the government to assume the cost and responsibility for its upkeep. While we visited, two employees from the regional soil conservation district showed up to perform routine tests for radiological contamination.
The Healing Springs today are popular and user-friendly. Water pours continually -- gallons every minute -- from multi-spigot pipes sunk into the ground. A big sign announces that "this historical property has been deeded to God for public use, please revere God by keeping it clean."
Behind the Springs, on the wooded side of Windy Hill Creek, a Christian cross stands with little pebble offerings arrayed atop its crossbar. Visitors park, unload carloads of empty water cooler bottles and Costco-size juice jugs, and fill up with God's free bounty.
A historical marker out by the highway informs that the Springs "by analysis are exceptionally pure and contain healthful minerals." It's the prospect of a water cure -- the healing part of the Springs -- that draws some people, like the afflicted out west who play Chinese checkers in the Radon Health Mines.
That wasn't the case with Ted and Vickie Plemon from Indiana, who were filling their fruit juice bottles when we arrived. They wanted God's Acre Healing Springs water because it makes better tasting coffee. "There's no lime, no scale on the pot," said Vickie. "You could set that water down for days," added Ted, "and no iron would settle out of it." So...maybe not a miracle of healing, but miraculous nevertheless.