McPherson Beach is private, man-made beach located just north of Alpharetta, GA. Construction of the beach started in February 1996 and continues today. In an area that was once woods, now sits over 874 tons of white sand covering approximately 1/4 acre. McPherson Beach also includes a pool, game room, lounge, theater, and much more!
In January of 1996, McPherson Beach was a forest with a small "river" running through it. Nothing but trees, bushes, weeds, and brush. The creators of McPherson Beach saw something else. They saw white sand, open skies, a "lake", waterfalls, and tropical plants. Many people questioned, and even laughed at, this vision. Frankly, just about everyone did (and some continue today). Undaunted by these naysayers, construction started. The beach started as just a small area near the "river". Trees were cleared, the ground was raked clean, and the first set of sand was brought in. Then the bridge was built and a small area on the other side of the "river" was converted to beach. Then came the walkway and steps to the beach and another small area was cleared for a firepit. The summer of 1999 brought the first major expansion of the beach. An approxiamate 40' X 80' area of the east side was cleared and the volleyball court was installed creating East Beach. The spring of 2001 brought the next major expansion. The west side was leveled and a retaining wall and steps were installed creating West Beach. In the spring of 2002, East Beach was expanded by another 20 feet. In the spring of 2003, a small area north of the "river" was cleared, steps were added, and the bonfire pit was moved creating North Beach. In the winter of 2005, East Beach was expanded another 15 feet. In the spring of 2007, North Beach was expanded to the west. In the spring of 2009, North Beach was expanded to the east. In the summer of 2010 and spring of 2011, small expansions were made to East. Mac Beach is pretty much maxed out right now but future adjacent land acquisition is a dream/possibility.
How'd they do that?
The transformation from woods to beach was/is done in two "simple" steps. First step is to remove all trees, stumps, weeds, brush, etc until to ground cover is nothing but dirt. Second step is to remove the dirt and replace it with sand. The first step is rather obvious and is virtually complete for all of Mac Beach. The second step was learned the hard way. When the volleyball court was first built, over 30 tons of sand was simply dumped on top of the ground. The problem here is that the ground slopes slightly towards the "river" and, when it rained hard, sand would wash into the "river". It was quickly realized that the sand needed to sit in a "bowl" so that it wouldn't wash away. But with sand already covering the entire area, using machinery to dig out the area was not an option. So, the process of pushing sand aside, digging a hole, moving the dirt away by wheelbarrow, then filling the hole with sand began. That process has now been repeated hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the years and continues today. Click here for some photos of the dirt out/sand in process.
Brothers and Sisters, Unite!
McPherson Beach is a melting pot of sorts for sand from around the world. When walking on McPherson Beach, your feet could be touching sand from Hawaii, Bahamas, Rio de Janiro, Australia, Grand Caymen, Cancun, Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Cozumel, Scotland, Barbados, Haiti, St Thomas or the Maldive Islands. Sand from over 408 different beaches has been mixed in with the existing sand.
Let's have some fun
The first McPherson Beach Party took place on Labor Day weekend in 1997. Parties have been held at the start and end of summer ever since, except in 1999 when only one party occurred in July. The Parties started as somewhat simple get togethers but, with various additions to the Mac Beach scene, they now include volleyball, swimming, hot tubbing, cornhole, ping pong, bonfires, and karaoke. The McPherson Beach Volleyball League started in 2000. The league runs almost every weekend from April to October. The Mac Beach Open, started in 2008, is a series of charity volleyball tournaments held over two weekends each year. The DSM Theater, which opened in its old location in March 1997, moved to its new location and opened in July 2002. A lobby was added outside the DSM Theater in April 2004. The DSM Theater hosts Movie of the Month Night showcasing fine feature films on the big screen. Mac's Game Room opened in 1996 and renovations completed in April 2002 doubled it's size. With the increase in size, it is now considered a "mega-entertainment complex" under Federal guidelines. March 2004 saw the beginning of Poker Night at Mac's Game Room. The Pool & Grotto at McPherson Beach opened in July 2004. Insiders expect it to become the most famous grotto east of the Playboy Mansion. Inspired by the Hard Rock hotel in Vegas and the El Dorado Royale in Mexico, the Cabanas at the Pool & Grotto were constructed in May 2005. The Karaoke Stage debuted at the 2005 End of Summer Party. The Stage is located in the Bamboo Lounge, which opened at the 2006 Summer Kickoff Party next to the DSM Theater & Lobby and overlooking the volleyball court.
The Damned Dam and the Wacky Waterfall
Various attempts have been made over the years in building a dam in the "river" that runs along McPherson Beach in hopes of creating a "lake". Despite increasing dam building intelligence and technology, Mother Nature has always won in the end. The first attempts at a dam occurred where the small bridge now crosses the "river". Initial attempts simply involved stacking of rocks. Further attempts involved pressure treated wood, sandbags, sheets of plastic, and concrete. All of these attempts had varying degrees of success, but eventually the water would find a new path around the dam. McPherson Beach officials then decided that if they couldn't successfully build a two foot high dam, surely they could build a four foot high dam further down stream (in front of where is now the East bridge). Taking all of the lessons learned from previous attempts, a brand new, bigger, and better dam was constructed using thick pond liner as the secret new weapon. Lo and behold, the "river" filled and the dam held (woo-hoo!)... for about six months. As with the old dam, the water found a path around the pond liner and the water sat about 6 inches below the top of the dam. In March of 2002, Mother Nature dropped the final blow to the new dam. Heavy rains caused the "river" to swell and the strong currents ate into the bank of the "river" leaving a three to four foot gap between the dam and the "river" bank (d'oh!). Years later in the fall of 2014, efforts resumed. The focus this time was creating a waterfall as that would surely be easier than a dam. So, construction started on a waterfall in front of the West bridge. Stacking stones and a little bit of concrete were used to create a 2 foot wall. Then the backfilling of the wall started and wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt was poured in behind the wall and upstream to raise the creek bed to the level of the wall. All was going well (check out the Mac Beach facebook page for a video of the waterfall in full effect) but trouble was brewing. At some point during construction, a little birdie didn't like what was going on and flew to the County offices to complain. After a friendly visit from the Marshall and County officials, the wall was taken down. While dam and waterfall building efforts have cost McPherson Beach time, money, and much agony, it has been constant source of humor and entertainment for others. McPherson Beach officials are currently plotting their next move.
Well, we all have stories
Click below for fascinating and intriguing tales of years gone by.
Various tropical plants have been added to McPherson Beach over the years. While ferns and wild magnolias are native to McPherson Beach, palm trees, yuccas, cannas, wild grass, and other plants have been imported. July 2003 saw the addition of two eight foot windmill palms giving a distinct tropical feel to McPherson Beach. There are now 19 Windmill palms on the Mac Beach grounds. Needle palms and dwarf blue palmettos have also been planted. Every spring, boston ferns are added around the gazebo and hot tub deck.
Decks, Decks, and more Decks
Decking overlooking McPherson Beach has seen several additions over the years. In December of 98, the hot tub deck was added. In February of 00, the upper deck was doubled in size. In February of 02, the covered deck was doubled in size and a gazebo was added. In June of 03, the "World's Largest Volleyball Courtside Deck" was added. In July of 04, the hot tub deck was expanded and steps were added leading to the pool area. In April of 05, the Cabana deck was added off the pool area. In all, there is approximately 2030 square feet of decking at McPherson Beach.