On a summer day in 1890, Martin Shatley was passing by a cool mountain stream and paused to dip his hands and face in the water to soothe his hot, blistered skin. Only a few hours later he discovered that the crippling skin disease which had plagued him for many years, seemed to be miraculously disappearing (Shatley‘s own testimonial).
As the rumor spread of the miraculous curing water and Shatley Springs, people from near and far begin to converge on the site seeking relief from varying skin diseases, stomach ailments, rheumatism and nervous disorders. At this time the spring was a little more than a hole in the ground walled up by rocks. As there were no facilities available around the spring, visitors to the site stayed in tents around the spring or lodged with nearby families. Numerous pamphlets were published which swore testimonials to the curative powers of the spring.
A movement was started for the development of a resort on the property after Martin Shatley sold the farm surrounding the springs and moved to Wilkes County. He did not, however, sell the spring itself, returning each summer to bathe in the waters. Martin Shatley soon begin the early development of the resort by erecting a small bath house, which contained a long bench, a tiny heater and a bathtub of sheet iron. The water in which they bathed was heated outside in a black iron pot.
As Martin Shatley became older and wasn’t able to visit the spring each summer, he sold it to Alonzo McNeill, Bid Williams and a Mr. Harper. The new owners refurbished the spring building with a cement enclosure and a new covering. In the 1920s cabins and the tea room were built and the name was changed to radium Springs as a result of a chemical analysis revealing a trace of radium in the water. For a short time the watered was bottled and sold. One truckload in 1927 brought a price of $840 for 600 gallons. Bid Williams bought out the interest of the other owners and changed the name back to Shatley Springs. He owned the spring until 1958, when it was purchased by Lee McMillan, the current owner.
Mr. McMillan was a Commander in the United States Navy at the time. Because he was stationed on submarines and had limited ability to spend his pay, he had saved enough money to purchase the resort. His parents Frank McMillan and Goldie McMillan ran the resort for many years, with Goldie McMillan serving as the primary cook and kitchen manager. It is her excellent country cooking that guests have come to enjoy on their many visits to the restaurant.
With Goldie McMillan and many other local women cooking for guests throughout the summer seasons, Shatley Springs’ food has become as famous as the healing qualities of the spring water. The menu features country style classics like country ham, fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, a variety of country vegetables and homemade desserts. Shatley Springs is located in a quiet, rustic atmosphere with several comfortable cabins bordering a fishing pond. Shatley Springs has seen changes and innovations down through the years; however, most things have remained the same. A visit there is like taking a step back in time. The cool, invigorating climate, the restful location and the sparkling spring water combine to make the perfect setting in which to enjoy a traditional country meal, visit some of the local shops, and take home some of the Shatley Springs water for your family. Come for a visit and return home well fed and rejuvenated.