Tag Archives: Rivers & Wetlands of the Georgia Coast

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 1970s 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

DuBignon Creek, Jekyll Island

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Jekyll Island GA

Sapelo River, Eulonia


Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Eulonia GA

Tivoli River, Bryan County

Tivoli River Bryan County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

This is the view at the Tivoli River Fishing Pier & Kayak Launch, on Belfast-Keller Road, and it’s the first public “kayak/canoe-only launch” in Coastal Georgia. The Tivoli is an 8.9 mile-long tidal river that flows into the Belfast River, just north of that river’s terminus at the Medway River. The fishing is generally good, too, with redfish, trout, and flounder being abundant much of the year.

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Filed under -BRYAN COUNTY

Blackbeard Creek, Colonel’s Island

Yellow Bluff GA Liberty County Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Blackbeard Creek is actually a network of tidal creeks and inlets located west of St. Catherine’s Sound. This view was made near the Yellow Bluff area of Colonel’s Island.

Yellow Bluff GA Liberty County Tidal Creek Atlantic Salt Marsh Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Colonel's Island GA

Black Island Creek at Ashantilly

Black Island Creek at Ashantilly McIntosh County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Thomas Spalding picked one of the most beautiful spots on the coast when he located his mainland home, Ashantilly, on the banks of Black Island Creek. I visit friends here and photograph it often and it’s always a favorite.

Black Island Creek Atlantic Tidal Marsh from Ashantilly McIntosh County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Darien GA

Fancy Bluff Creek, Anguilla

Fancy Bluff Creek Glynn County GA Anguilla Community Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Fancy Bluff is a large network of tidal creeks and tributaries in southern Glynn County. Though it’s a bit inland, it gives the appearance of being right on the coast.


Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Anguilla GA

Ogeechee River at Kings Ferry

Ogeechee River Looking West Kings Ferry Landing Chatham Coiunty GA Sunset Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

This was shot at sunset, looking west.


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Stars & Stripes, Highway 80

Tybee Island Ga Area Highway 80 US Flag in Marsh Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Travelers to Tybee Island have undoubtedly seen this flag, flying proudly in the marsh on Highway 80 a bit west of Fort Pulaski.


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Oatland Island, Savannah


Built in 1927 as a retirement home for the Brotherhood of Railroad Conductors, the “main building” today serves as an educational center for the surrounding Oatland Island Wildlife Center. It is quite typical of institutional architecture of its era and subsequently served as a Public Health Service hospital in World War II. Until being surplussed in 1973, it was used as a development laboratory by the Centers for Disease Control. The Chatham County Board of Education has owned it since then and it serves over 20,000 students and visitors each year as a wildlife education facility today. To movie buffs, the building may be familiar to viewers of the John Travolta movie, The General’s Daughter, as it was used as a set location. And Martha Barnes adds this interesting bit of Savannah trivia: People who read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will remember the main building as where Luther Driggers worked and actually developed the chemical used in today’s flea collars, but in the book he was always about to poison Savannah’s water supply.


Carol Suttle, a Savannah native and Oatland’s most enthusiastic ambassador, contacted me several months ago about photographing the old water tower at the entrance to the center; it’s scheduled to be demolished and it’s one of her favorite structures on the island. Touring the island and its natural features with Carol and photographer Mike McCall was a real treat, and I hope to revisit in the future. Located just past downtown Savannah on the Islands Expressway (US 80), it’s often overlooked by tourists heading to Tybee Island but is well worth a visit! See the link at the end of this post for specifics about admission and other particulars.


David Delk, Jr., built this cabin in 1837 in the Taylor’s Creek community near Gum Branch in Liberty County. It was moved and reconstructed here by the Youth Conservation Corps in 1979. The layout is of the Scots/Irish or “shotgun” design (not to be confused with the more common and more recent shotgun “house”), a vernacular form common in early Georgia.


Martha Phillips Youngblood writes that the corn crib pictured above was originally owned by her grandfather, Thomas Hilton Phillips, and was moved here from Treutlen County.

Oatland Island GA Abandoned Barn Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Oatland Island GA CDC Predecessor Abandoned Utility Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The two abandoned structures pictured above are remnants of the bureaucratic era on the island. A hand-crafted boat from the 1970s can also be seen on the property.

Oatland Island GA Savannah Abandoned Ship Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), as well as wolves and bison can be easily seen on the property.


Beautiful Richardson Creek runs adjacent to the island.


Richardson Creek at Oatland Island Savannah GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015








Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Oatland Island GA, Savannah GA