Our History

Shatley 1927

Spring House, September 1927.

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. (Read Mr. Shatley’s testimonial.)

As the rumors spread of the miraculous curing water of Shatley Springs, people from near and far began to converge on the site seeking relief from varying skin diseases, stomach ailments, rheumatism and nervous disorders. At this time the spring was 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.

Shatley 1955
On the left is Mrs. J B Williams. Mr. and Mrs. J. Bid Williams owned Shatley Springs from 1950 until 1958. They lived in Wilkesboro, NC where Mrs. Williams also taught.

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. Shatley soon began the early development of the resort by erecting a small bathhouse, 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 was unable 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 1920’s, cabins and a tearoom 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 water was bottled and sold; one truckload in 1927 brought a price of $840 for 600 gallons. Mr. 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 sold to Lee Q. McMillan, the present owner.

Shatley 1927

Group at Shatley Springs. 1927.

Since the discovery of the springs by Martin Shatley, thousands have gained renewed health by drinking or bathing in the water, which flows out of the Little Phoenix Mountain. The water contains numerous elements and is considered one of the purest springs in the world. The water of Shatley Springs is still used by many people for its curative properties. Even in the months when the resort is closed, people carry away large containers of the water. The water can be stored for months without losing its fresh taste. The spring itself is always running and the water is free.

Today, Shatley Springs is even more popular with an eating facility that features country ham, fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, a variety of vegetables and homemade desserts. Shatley Springs food has become as famous as the healing qualities of the spring water. Shatley Springs is located in a quiet, rustic atmosphere with ten comfortable cottages bordering a fishing pond. Shatley Springs has seen changes and innovations down through the years; however, most things have remained the same and 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 the traditional country food that is served here.