Tag Archives: Recreation in Coastal Georgia

Croquet at the Jekyll Island Club

Croquet was a favorite of the millionaires who were members of the exclusive Jekyll Island Club in the late 19th century, and in honor of that tradition a beautiful croquet law is still maintained for visitors of the Jekyll Island Club Resort.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Jekyll Island GA

Savannah-Ogeechee Canal, 1830

The sign pictured above, in the parking area, illustrates the method of towing a barge in the canal.

The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal is a national landmark of early engineering located on the edge of Savannah. The 16.5-mile canal, conceived by turnpike owner Ebenezer Jenckes, was constructed by slave laborers and Irish immigrants between 1826-1830 to expedite transportation of cotton, lumber, and other valuable market products from the Ogeechee River to port at Savannah. It also served as a means of moving consumer items from Savannah to the state’s interior. DeWitt Clinton, Jr., son of the New York governor associated with the Erie Canal, was the first chief engineer. In 1827, he abruptly left the project, likely due to investors’ refusal to incorporate a feeder canal. His assistant, Edward Hall Gill, briefly assumed engineering duties, but was replaced in 1828 by Loring Olmstead Reynolds.

The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal (originally known as the Savannah-Ogeechee-Altamaha Canal) was the first and most ambitious of three built in Georgia during the Canal Era and is the only one retaining significant structural components today. Plans to connect it to the Altamaha and eventually the Flint and Chattahoochee were never realized.It was beset with problems from the beginning and at least three local newspapers dubbed it “the Folly”. In 1826, Peter McIntyre, a local subcontractor, paid the passage for one hundred Irish laborers to work on the project. They worked for about a month but by December began to riot. McIntyre and another subcontractor, Eze Baldwin, absconded with their payroll, leaving the workers “in deep distress” and a “state approaching starvation.” They were aided by members of the local Hibernian Society before returning to Ireland or dispersing elsewhere. Such unexpected labor disputes lead to cost overruns and heavy debt. Nonetheles, work on the canal was completed by December 1830.

By 1836, the canal was bankrupt, and sold at a sherrif’s sale. Investor iterest in canals had been replaced by the promise of railroads. The new owners set out to improve it, replacing wooden locks with more substantial brick locks, and the canal began to turn a profit, albeit not the margin expected. Portions of all the locks survive, some nearly in their entirety. Five of the locks also featured a keeper’s house.

In the days leading up to the capture of Savannah in 1864, Union and Confederate troops were encamped near the canal and were involved in several skirmishes. Damage was done to the canal but by 1866, it was operational once again. In 1876, Captain Charles Sheftall lead weekly excursions along the canal that included music, dancing, dining, and other reccreational activities. Heavy rains in June 1876 did serious damage to the canal. A yellow fever epidemic that followed claimed over a thousand lives and officials blamed the canal’s stagnant waters, overflowing banks, and inadequate drainage.

After years of losing business to the railroads, the canal was purchased by the Central of Georgia in 1888 and officially ceased operation.

The walking trail begins at Lock No. 5 (Young’s Lock).

Much of the 1.6-mile trail follows the historic towpath.

A heavy stone bearing associated hardware bears the date of 1830, the year the canal was officially opened.

Lock No. 6 is located at the point where the canal meets the Ogeechee River.

Details of the architecture are visible from the south side.

The bricks were made on site.

This important resource is an amazing survivor and its accessibility as a public recreation area is the result of the work of the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society, who oversee the property and offer interpretive background.

The boardwalk follows the shoreline of the Ogeechee and offers great views of this historic river.

 

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY

Cannon’s Point, St. Simons Island

Acquisition of the Cannon’s Point property (608 acres) by the St. Simons Land Trust (SSLT) in 2013 has affected the preservation of the last contiguous wild maritime forest on the island. The peninsula, at the northeast end of the island, features over six miles of salt marsh, tidal creek, and river shoreline. Ancient shell middens, essentially the trash piles of Native American settlers, are also present. At the dock just beyond the parking lot is this idyllic view of a small tributary of the Hampton River, located at the former site of Taylor’s Fish Camp.

Free and open to the public Saturday-Monday 9AM-3PM, Cannon’s Point Preserve is staffed by volunteers who will give you a bit of history and information when you arrive. Be aware that the walk down Cannon’s Point Road, the main trail in the preserve, is 4.4 miles roundtrip. Bring water, bug spray, and good shoes.

The old camp store remains and has recently been restored.

The first structure you’ll likely notice as you begin the hike to the Couper house ruins is this tabby barn. Built circa 1925 by Charles, Archibald, Arthur, and Reginald Taylor as a storage shed, it’s a great example of tabby architecture. The Taylor brothers established a business in 1919, farming, raising livestock, and operating as fishing guides. This part of the Cannon’s Point Preserve was known as the Lawrence Plantation and the brothers purchased it from Anna Gould Dodge, widow of Christ Church rector Anson Gates Dodge, in 1921. The Taylors were the largest producers of  beef and pork in the area until the 1960s. In the early 1970s, the barn was used as a set location in the movie Conrack.

The road to the north end is characterized by palmetto and live oak, dominant species of the Atlantic maritime forest.

There are numerous “ancient oaks” throughout the preserve, some well over two hundred years old.

Holly (Ilex) is also found throughout.

Cannon’s Point is known to be a haven for the curious Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), a widely cultivated edible and medicinal variety.

The first site along the trail is the ruins of a slave cabin. All that remains is this hearth. From the establishment of the plantation in the 1790s until 1861, the cotton plantation at Cannon’s Point was wholly dependant on the labor of enslaved Africans.  Archaeological excavations undertaken here in the 19790s suggest that the slave cabins were built as 40×20 duplexes, with each family living in a 20×20 section. At this particular location, four cabins housing eight families surrounded a central well.

The site of the overseer’s house is beyond the slave cabin ruins. Research has indicated that overseers were very transient at Cannon’s Point, staying on average just a year and a half. They were paid between $200-$400 per year. The ruins confirm that it was unusually large when compared to other such structures on the coast. Most were two-room affairs, similar to slave cabins. The Cannon’s Point example was comparable to the owner’s house on small plantations. It’s thought to have been built in the 1820s.

Upon their acquisition of the property, the SSLT determined that the chimney was in danger of collapsing. They stabilized it using loose bricks found at the site.

The hearth remains, as well.

At the end of the long walk over the peninsula are the extensive ruins of John Couper’s Cannon’s Point House (built circa 1804). The human history of the area dates back at least 4500 years, when the first native people are thought to have been present. In the 1660s Spanish missionaries established Santo Domingo de Asajo to minister to the Guale Indians. Pirates drove missionaries and the Guale from the island by 1684, but the Guale returned over time. Daniel Cannon, a carpenter at Fort Frederica, was the first English owner, having been granted property here by the Trustees of the Georgia Colony in 1738. He didn’t stay long, though, and was in South Carolina by 1741.

John Couper, who came from Scotland to America prior to the Revolution, acquired Cannon’s Point in 1793 and with James Hamilton made Sea Island cotton the dominant crop of St. Simons Island. Couper served as a representative to the Georgia constitutional convention of 1798 and in 1804 gave the land known as Couper’s Point for construction of a lighthouse on St. Simons Island.

John Couper built this house by 1804 and lived here with his wife Rebecca and their five children throughout the antebellum era. Vice President Aaron Burr was among the first visitors. The labor of over 100 slaves kept the plantation running. (This image is from a painting by Couper’s grandson, John Lord Couper, circa 1850). Rebecca died in 1845 and John in 1850, at the age of 91. They’re buried in the cemetery at Christ Church, Frederica. Couper’s oldest son, James Hamilton Couper, managed Cannon’s Point until 1861 and it passed out of family hands in 1866. Several owners attemptd to maintain it over the next few decades with little success. The house burned in 1890.

A chimney with ovens and its tabby foundation are all that remain of the detached kitchen, which was built in the late 1790s. The slave cook Sans Foix produced wonderful meals for the Coupers and their guests, drawing acclaim from far and wide.

Beyond the kitchen are these ruins, which are presently unidentified.

Beautiful views of the Hampton River and Little St. Simons Island abound at Cannon’s Point.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

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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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Belle Bluff GA

Solterra Dovecote, Circa 1890, Jekyll Island

jekyll-island-ga-solterra-cottage-dovecote-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-coastal-georgia-usa-2017

Solterra Cottage, the retreat of Frederic and Frances Baker, was built in 1890 and became known for its lavish parties, even hosting the newly-elected President William McKinley, along with his wife and the Vice-President’s family, in 1899. A fire consumed the cottage in 1914, but this dovecote survived. Over the years, it was moved several times but has finally been placed between the ruins of Chicota and Hollybourne Cottage, near its original location.

jekyll-island-ga-solterra-dovecote-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-coastal-georgia-usa-2017

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

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Surf Fishing, St. Simons Island

st-simons-island-ga-surf-fisherman-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-coastal-georgia-usa-2016

 

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

Hopeton-Altama Plantation, Glynn County

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Main House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Altama Plantation House

George III of England granted 2,000 acres along the south bank of the Altamaha River to William Hopeton in 1763 and Hopeton soon set about creating the rice plantation which bore his name. So began the long modern history of this property, first known as Hopeton and now more widely known as Altama. In 1805, the property was sold to two Scottish immigrants, John Couper and James Hamilton, who grew Sea Island cotton with hundreds of slave laborers.   Couper’s son, James Hamilton Couper, vastly improved the property after he acquired it in 1827. He built the original Altama plantation house (pictured below) in the Georgian style circa 1858 (its ruins may remain, per a Glynn County historic resources survey).

After visiting Holland he introduced a system of dikes, canals and rails to move his rice and sugar efficiently to the river for transport into nearby Darien. Couper was perhaps Georgia’s greatest “Renaisance Man” and it’s unfortunate that he isn’t better known today outside a small group of historians. He led the survey party which mapped the Georgia-Florida border, built Christ Church in Savannah, and was the first to describe the Indigo Snake to science. He is honored eternally in its Latin name, Drymarchon couperi.

The Civil War was the death knell for Hopeton-Altama as a working plantation. In 1898 a small colony of Shakers attempted to tame the property, which was long neglected and dotted with ruins of its former glory. Their efforts to grow rice and raise cattle were unsuccessful and they abandoned the project in 1902. William Dupont bought the  adjacent Hopeton and Altama properties in 1914 and renamed the expanse Altama. Dupont wintered and trained racehorses here and built the main house (pictured in this post) based on the original plantation house. Cator Woolford bought the plantation in 1930 and built the swimming pool and “Play House”. In 1944, Alfred W. Jones scion of the Sea Island Company, acquired Altama, primarily for use as a hunting reserve. Cabins and structures supporting the sporting life were constructed in the ensuing years. With the Sea Island bankruptcy in 2010, Altama was bought by a private equity firm who planned to develop the property as homes and shops. With the help of the Nature Conservancy, the Marine Corps and private donors, the property was acquired by the state of Georgia in 2015 for future protection and management and will now serve as a publicly accessible Wildlife Management Area, part of a 120-mile corridor of protected lands stretching from Florida through the Okefenokee Swamp to Fort Stewart. It’s a real conservation success story and the cooperation of state and private entities is commendable.

The photos that follow are placed in relative order to where you will see them walking over the property from the main entrance, at Highway 99 just off Interstate 95. Though not particularly historic in terms of age, most of the outbuildings have a cultural value as part of a grand 20th-century hunting plantation. The Playhouse and swimming pool, built by Cator Willford, are important in their own right, as earlier examples in the evolution of Altama.

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Hunting Cabin Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Hunting Cabin, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Hunting Cabin Interior Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Hunting Cabin Interior, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Work Barn Arched Door Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Barn, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Work Barn Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Barn, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Storage Barn Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Barn, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Ancient Live Oak Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Ancient Oak, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Barn Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Barn, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Hunting Lodge Fanlight Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016The Playhouse (Side view showing fanlight), Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Lodge Swimming Pool Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vansihing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Swimming Pool, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Backyard of Lodge Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Behind the Playhouse, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA White Camellia Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastall Georgia USA 2016Camellias beside the Playhouse, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Shed Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016DNR Check Station, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Hunting Cabin Near Main House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Guest House, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Garage Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Garage behind Main House, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Big House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Main House, Altama Plantation

Altama Plantation Glynn County GA Palm Lined Drive Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanshing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Palm Lane, Altama Plantation

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY