Established 1930 Something
Together, Whippoorwill Sportsman’s Lodge and Lake Talquin go back a bit. The lake was born in 1927 when construction began on the Jackson Bluff hydroelectric dam. Soon thereafter, in 1930 something, a fishing camp, now known as Whippoorwill opened for business. Back in those early times, when the reservoir was brand new, few anglers owned boats, but if they were serious about their pastime, they had their very own outboard motor. Some of the motors were made to fold in half and fit in a suitcase. Whippoorwill, originally called Cook’s Landing was one of the very first cutting-edge businesses on Lake Talquin offering that one-stop shop for the era’s modern-day vacationing fisher. The camp provided a place to bunk for the night, served lakeside home-cooked meals, sold bait and tackle, and yes, rented a boat to the anxious angler toting an outboard motor in the trunk of their Buick. The place was back in the woods, at the very end of the long dirt road, rustic in a good way, and I guess you could say rural. Well, there was a chicken farm harvesting and selling fresh eggs right on site.
The Song of the Whip-Poor-Will
There weren’t many homes on the lake back then. But as the lake began to build upon its future fame, more homes were built in stride. A local couple, T.M. and Elma Burns lived in one of those earlier homes. Their home, back in Cuba creek, was only a few long casts away from the fish camp. At the end of most days, T.M. would stoke up a fat cigar, probably rolled from Gadsden county’s own shade tobacco. He and Elma would relax together on their front porch overlooking the lake. When the evening darkness set in, shortly after dusk, they would often hear the call of a whip-poor-will coming from the woods across the moonlit creek. The magnitude of those not to be taken for granted moments relaxed their minds and seeded their dreams. Around 1962, T.M. and Miss Elma harvested one of those dreams. They purchased the Cook’s Landing fish camp. And the new name, to their new beginning, was inspired by those very same evenings on the porch watching the sunset fade into the persistent song of that notorious bird. The Burns rightfully renamed the fish camp Whip-Poor-Will. And, they guided their dream for nearly 30 years from the early 1960s up until T.M. passed in the late 1980s.
Can’t you hear that Whip-Poor-Will?
On April 1, 1992, simply inspired by fools, fools being singular, Jeff DuBree and his family purchased the Whippoorwill. The business that once flourished, then, had sadly faded away. The place was neglected and rundown. And, like the fate of the feathered whip-poor-will, the glory days of fish camps were in rapid decline. But somehow, the name still seemed to fit. It provided just enough spark to arouse hope. The path toward that hope was long. But with stubborn drive and consistent persistence, the DuBree’s & company resuscitated the dream and brought back what once was. At some point, suddenly it seemed, the Whippoorwill’s good vibe and spirit were re-awakened. It’s been a journey. Along the way, we made many changes and added more than a wrinkle or two. And, while the place may be a little different now than it was in 1962. I like to imagine. Strike that, better yet believe, that ole T.M. and Elma whom neither have I met, but certainly feel like I have, smiled when they once again heard that mystical, magical call.
While Florida’s many popular theme park destinations wonderfully replicate other places and times. Our vision for The Whip, from the very beginning, no less difficult, has always been to further enrich the Lake Talquin experience by eagerly maintaining true authenticity. Simple plan. Keep it current, but more importantly, keep it real! I believe we’ll stick with the plan for at least a little longer. Maybe even just a little longer than the song of a whip-poor-will.