If You’re Traveling the Backroads & Byways of Georgia, Let Dave Jenkins Be Your Guide

In early 2016, I got a message from Dave Jenkins thanking me for my work documenting Georgia: Your Vanishing Georgia sites are rich sources of information, and I am very grateful to have discovered them. He noted that he was working on a similar project and that it seemed our paths had often crisscrossed. Since you have diligently assembled so much valuable information and made it public, I would like to make use of it where appropriate. It was a real honor, considering Dave Jenkins was the photographer who documented some of the most beloved Southern icons of our time in his bestselling Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. While this generation may know the barns as birdhouses from the gift shop at Cracker Barrel restaurants, they represent a lost era to many of us and the book has become a testament to their cultural significance. To think that he was drawing any inspiration from my work and was reaching out was quite humbling.

This May, I received a copy of Backroads & Byways of Georgia from Dave’s Chickamauga studio with the inscription: To Brian Brown, the Ubiquitous Man, without whose help I would not have found many of the sites in this book! As I leafed through the book, I was amazed at just how much of the same ground we had covered. As big as Georgia is, it’s full of wonderful small communities that have a way of attracting photographers like Dave Jenkins. And Dave has set the book up in such a way that the traveler or photographer can pick an area, set aside two or three days and see about everything worth seeing in that area. As an advocate of backroads travel, I highly recommend keeping a copy in your vehicle, much as you would a field guide to birds or wildflowers. Not only are the kinds of trips Dave outlines great for learning the history and seeing the natural wonders, they’re vital to the struggling economies of small towns.

As a fellow traveler, I’m awed by the fact that Dave covered over 10,000 miles in a year and had the time to put such a wonderful book together. I’m in my late 40s and Dave his late 70s! I’ve been doing this for over ten years and am just now forcing myself to do my first book that isn’t self-published. Dedication and a respect for your subject are what drive a good book and I heartily endorse the results of Dave’s work. Travel books are a dime a dozen, but not so Backroads & Byways of Georgia. It reminds me of Georgia: A Guide to It’s Towns and Countryside, the WPA classic published by the University of Georgia Press in 1940. Like any such book, it can’t cover every single place its creator would like to, but in seeking out so many places, it provides as good a road map as you can hope for. Georgia is full of hidden treasures and Dave Jenkins has provided the most compelling case I’ve seen in a long time for hitting the road and finding some of them.

You can find the book at Amazon and numerous other places, but if you’d like to order a signed copy, directly from Dave, you can email him at djphoto@vol.com.

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Jelly Ball Mural, Darien

Cannonball Jellyfish, or jelly balls, which have traditionally been unwanted in shrimpers’ nets, are now an important moneymaker for Georgia fishermen, third only to shrimp and crab as the state’s leading catch. The jelly balls are dried and shipped to Chinese and Japanese markets. In season, you can even take a tour of the Golden Island International processing facility.

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Foggy Morning in Darien

I live near Darien so I’ve photographed the shrimp boats here more times than I can count. With all the challenges facing independent fishermen, I think it’s important to document their presence.

Seeing them in a coastal fog is a totally different experience.

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Sea Otter, Belle Bluff

Belle Bluff is a fishing/boating community on Blackbeard Creek. Such places are fairly common on the coast, a modern version of the fishing camp.

 

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DuBignon Creek, Jekyll Island

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Jekyll Island GA

Harrington Graded School, 1920s, St. Simons Island

The recent restoration of this historic African-American schoolhouse is one of the greatest preservation successes on the Georgia coast and should serve as a model for similar projects. After the Civil War and the collapse of the plantation economy, the descendants of enslaved persons remained on St. Simons and lived in the communities of South End, Jewtown, and Harrington. They were the dominant population on St. Simons until development in the early and mid-20th century changed the racial makeup of the island. Only remnants of their presence remain, and among them, the Harrington Graded School (thought to be a Rosenwald school), and Hazel’s Cafe, are the most significant.

The school served all three African-American communities until desegregation in the 1960s and was briefly used as a day care center until being abandoned in the early 1970s. It was eventually purchased by Glynn County and the St. Simons Land Trust but due to deterioration, it was slated for demolition in 2010. The Land Trust and the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition formed the Friends of Harrington School and saved the school house. Serious work began in 2015 and by December 2016, the school was restored to its former glory.

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

St. Andrews Church of God, Circa 1954, St. Simons Island

This interesting church in the Harrington community was built just as the historic African-American neighborhoods of St. Simons were reaching their ebb. It’s a utilitarian example of the two-tower style, common among African-American congregations on the coast in an earlier time. The cinderblock structure, built sometime between 1950-1954, has unpainted sides, with the front being the only “finished” section. A more traditional structure, the circa 1920 Pentecostal Zion Church, stands behind this one.

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA