Lake Bounds, Mississippi
Keith E. Wilkerson
Gristmill below the spring-fed millpond swimming area
Photos by Sam Kennedy
Lake Bounds is located in Clarke County approximately 5 miles east of Highway 11 off the Vossburg / Shubuta road. This lake is located on private property and was closed to the public a few years prior to the death of the previous owner, Trudy Bounds Gatlin.
It is my understanding that the millpond and the gristmill was built by Trudy's father. The date of the construction is unknown, but speculated at around 1890. The pond is fed by a huge spring that produces many thousands of gallons per hour. As a result, the temperature of the water remained around 60 degrees, even during the blazing Mississippi summers. In the younger days of the facility, the water was crystal clear and around 15 to 20 feet deep at center. The soil in the area has a high sand content thus making the lake's bottom and shoreline naturally clean and swimmer friendly.
I'm not sure when Mr. Bounds first grasp the idea of declaring his pond to be a recreational site, but I would speculate that many young boys helped him with the concept. From inception through the 1980's, Lake Bounds became a staple of local family recreation. On any given weekend, the road to the lake would be lined with parked cars. Picnic lunches, watermelons cooling in the water, music, and the happy squeal of young children filled the hollow.
The swimming area was divided into three sections by floats attached to ropes. A shallow children's area was situated near the millrace. A second rope was designed to keep swimmers from venturing into the upper, undeveloped, section of the lake. The main section comprised the balance and included a thick oak diving board and a pontoon raft.
The raft was approximately 10 feet square with floatation provided by four fifty-five gallon steel drums. A long bamboo pole was normally provided to propel the raft about the lake. More often, all of the passengers would sit on one side of the raft and kick their legs to propel the craft. A common raft dwellers sport was a King of the Hill contest whereas the winner was the only party who didnt get tossed into the lake.
A lifeguard was always on duty and you could rest assured that he was a highly qualified swimmer. I once heard that a part of the qualification was to swim the length of the lake, underwater, which was no small task.
Miss Trudy's standards were always high and she had no problem showing you the way out if you didn't conduct yourself in a suitable manner.
I've never spoken to anyone who doesn't remember a trip to Lake Bound's without producing a broad smile. Like so many other elements of life, the facility was a component of a simpler time that has now passed.
From left to right: Catherine Lowery, Tommie Siebels, Bobbie Siebels, Vannah Merrell. - Circa 1946
Note the sandy hill on the opposite side of the lake. A steel cable was strung above the lake. You could climb this incline and slide down the cable suspended by a pulley. The object was to let go above the deep water and make a big splash.
Bobby Siebels playing in the lake, circa 1946.
In the background: A dressing room or bathroom located on the dam. A sign is posted on the corner of the building that reads: PAY AS YOU ENTER TEN CENTS. The spillway is visible directly behind Bobby.
Photos - Marsha Doll
Photos - Sam Kennedy
During October of 2003, I revisited Lake Bounds and captured some photos of the millpond, the grist mill, and the old store. The condition of the buildings is rapidly degrading and I'm glad that I was able to collect the following photos.
The millpond is now very shallow and filled with moss. Old diving board is still there on the right. Concrete millrace is visible on the lower left.
Sand beach is almost gone. Picnic pavilion, site of many happy family reunions, remains on right.
The old office /concession store. I bet the floor is still wet and sandy from the thousands of little dripping feet that ran inside to buy candy bars and cold soft drinks. Woman's dressing room is on left. Men's dressing room has collapsed.
Peeking through a window of the concession buiilding. Note stock shelves on left and glass candy case on right at end of the counter.
Note the soft drink refrigerator on right, but not the one that I remember. On back wall is a sign that reminds us of a different time. Beside it is an old soft drink advertising thermometer and a similar advertising mirror. Plastic beach floats are piled around the room. In my day, old automobile inner tubes were available for a small fee.
The dressing rooms
Interior of dressing rooms
The Grist Mill
Mill viewed from the rear. Water wheel remains intact but the wooden millrace has collapsed.
North side of the mill
The old gear reduction and flat belt drive (pulley visible on right)
Peeking between the cracks - Mill Interior
The old scales used to calculate the tare weight fee for grinding corn or wheat. The miller was normally paid with a percentage of the grind. Note the old stoneware pitcher on the lower right.
During the Summer of 2007 I had the opportunity to visit Lake Bounds again. What I found was sad. The foundation of the mill has collapsed and is in a condition of demise. This site is private property so there is likely no salvation. However, I'm glad for the great memories and the luck to have collected some good photos while the mill was intact. Thanks to everyone for the help!
These pages are a work in progress. While every attempt has been made to include accurate historical information, some error may be included. I invite corrections, additional information, additional photographs, and accounts of personal experience. Please contact me at the supplied address. Very little has been documented in regards to the dying towns and landmarks of east-central Mississippi. With your help, I hope to put together a few pages that we all can pass along to our grandchildren. Thanks!
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