This wonderful Greek Revival house is the centerpiece of what is today known as the Teel-Crawford-Gaston Plantation or, more practically, the Gaston farm. The historical background that follows (in italics) comes from the 2004 National Register of Historic Places registration form. The farm represents two major periods in the history of Georgia agriculture, the plantation system and the the tenant farming system. John Teel purchased the property in 1836 and built the main house by 1840. He established a plantation where, by 1850, he lived with his wife, nine children, and 16 slaves. In 1852, Teel sold the plantation to Shadrack and Lucina Crawford, who after the Civil War turned the property from a plantation based on slave labor to a farm based on the tenant system.
The Crawfords sold the farm to Robert B. Gaston in 1918, who farmed there until his death in 1925. Gaston worked the land with mules and relied on the labor of tenant farmers. Gaston built the existing outbuilding complex to support the operation, most of which survives. James Monroe Gaston, Jr., Robert’s grandson, continues to farm the property to this day.
National Register of Historic Places
This private fishing camp is one of a few that still remain on the Ogeechee River.
I hope these sorts of places survive well into the future, but with increasing pollution on our rivers, it seems a challenge. Just downstream from this camp, illegal chemical discharges at King America Finishing led to the largest fish kill in Georgia history in May 2011. And we can never forget that the agency charged with preventing these sorts of things, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, essentially colluded with the polluter in allowing permits that should never have been issued and furthermore waiving fines after this ecological disaster occurred.
Near the ghost town of Ogeechee on the Ogeechee River this wooden bridge still stands alongside a newer bridge, built in 1970. I imagine it was a scary trip on the Old Ogeechee Road back in the day, especially during flood stage.
This is located just west of Hiltonia. It appears the lumber is being salvaged.
The front gable features shingles at the corners.
The interior, which must have been a lovely space at one time, is merely a shell of its former self today.
The pulpit is the only feature that still resembles a church.
This common utiliatrian form, once widespread throughout South Georgia, is rapidly disappearing from the landscape.
One of the first things you’ll likely notice at Rocky Ford Landing is this abandoned railroad trestle. Damaged by an Ogeechee flood in 1902, it represents a tangible link to an era of South Georgia lumber barons who would do anything to distribute their product, even if it meant building their own railroads. A 10-mile “shortline”, it was constructed in the early 1890s by the E. E. Foy Lumber Company to connect his naval stores operations in Portal to the Central of Georgia line at Rocky Ford and was abandoned by 1905. The business was highly profitable but ultimately unsustainable. After extracting turpentine from the rich forests of the region, Foy cut the timber and sold off the property, but not before making a boomtown of Portal, still known today as the Turpentine City. A 1903 Statesboro News article noted “A quarter of a century ago, Bulloch was a great pine forest and majestic pines covered every hill and dale from the Ogeechee to the Canoochee. Enough pine timber was in the county to have built a modern New York…The turpentine men came first and the big and little trees were all boxed until today only a few tracks of virgin timber are standing and it looks like an oasis in a great desert. After the turpentine operations came the sawmill men and the standing timber was slain at an alarming rate, until now timber is a scarce article. The naval stores men are moving away to Alabama and Mississippi and the saw mills will soon have to follow them, yet it had its benefits in the way of opening hundreds of new farms and a great influx of population so that where the stately pines used to grow and sing their weird songs, cotton and corn now grow in wealth in their place.”
It’s interesting to make a link to the history of the place while enjoying its natural charms. It’s a great spot to take a swim when the water is low enough and also a good put-in for a leisurely day of canoeing or kayaking.
This is located just outside Millen on Highway 23. It looks like the house was likely a tenant dwelling expanded at some point. An addition on the left is visible.