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Julian Smith Casino....

Julian Smith Casino is located at historic Lake Olmstead Park.

More information needed. By history a place labeled a 'casino' usually also was an amusement park if the park be 'small'. Established 1870 ??

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Turn-of-the-twentieth century postcard image depicting men, women, and children boating on Lake Olmstead in Augusta, Georgia. The sign on the boathouse reads "Boat to let." Lake Olmstead was created during the expansion of the Augusta Canal in 1873, when engineer Charles A. Olmstead constructed a dam across Rae's Creek. By the turn of the twentieth century, Lake Olmstead had become a popular recreation area for Augustans. Large parks, such as Lake View Park, were built around the lake and offered Augustans opportunities to fish and boat both recreationally and competively.

The canal served other functions besides the powering of machinery. Picnic parties and excursionists found pleasant retreats at the headgates and locks and the Old Rae’s Creek aqueduct-pronounced "ackyduck" by locals. On the first level, boats ranging in size from one-man canoes to the 100-person capacity "Dolly Varden" floated back and forth from the canal basin to the locks. The "Petersburg Boats," specially designed barges some 70 feet long and 5 or 6 feet wide with a six-man crew, were the most common on the canal, carrying cotton and other goods down from Petersburg on the Savannah River. Each company along the canal usually had its own barge and, in cases, a small steamboat.

Lake Olmstead too became a recreation center. Sailboat and rowboat races around the small islands competed with swimming and other attractions along the shore. The Lake View pavilion along its shore was the place to be at the turn of the century.

But the canal could turn pleasure into tragedy. An overgrown granite headstone on the canal bank near Rae’s Creek reads: "Here on the 10th day of March 1891 were drowned Louise King Connelly and Henry Cumming Lamar."

Lake Olmstead, Augusta's 126-year-old recreational jewel in a rough setting, will get $555,732 worth of 'polish' when the first stage of a $2.8 million renovation project begins on Monday.

Lake Olmstead was created in 1872 as a part of Augusta Canal expansion designed by engineer Charles Olmstead. Augustans began flocking to Lakeview Park as early as a year later, according to articles in The Augusta Chronicle.

Julian Smith Casino, named after a former Augusta mayor, was added in 1936.

The park was the place to go before the coming of Strom Thurmond Lake. Boat racing, fishing and water skiing were among the popular uses, but after the 70,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundment was created in the mid-1950s, the casino, park and facilities started to deteriorate from lack of use.

CREDITS: Excerpts: Augusta Chronicle