Oliver Landing is a great place to access the Ogeechee.
Tag Archives: Ogeechee River
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.
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.
All our Georgia rivers are swollen beyond their banks again and it’s a beautiful sight to me. After witnessing their struggles through so much drought in the recent past, I’m glad to see them as a beacon to people who love the outdoors. I just hope people will continue to understand more about the constant threats of pollution they all face and that a balance between industry and environment must and can be struck.
The old store still stands where Jack Leigh shot the iconic photograph “Mr. Hazel and His Dog Buster” for his classic The Ogeechee: A River & Its People. Hazel Frawley and Jack Leigh are both gone now, but many photographers still make the trip to Scarboro to see this old place. Here are some musings by Leigh on his visit to Scarboro: On an old logging road, cracked and broken from years of neglect, where the red clay is slowly covering what’s left of the pavement, Hazel Frawley’s general store still stands. A short distance down the road, the skeletal remains of a wooden bridge stretch across the Ogeechee like ancient crosses in a forgotten graveyard…Nothing much comes this way any more, but the little clapboard store remains open. Mr. Hazel has run this store for over forty years, and he can remember when he sold everything from coffins to candy. The shelves are virtually bare now, except for a few canned goods and several different sizes of wash tubs that hang form the overhead rafters. Those who travel the Ogeechee River have been stopping by the store for as long as anyone can remember, stopping by for a Moon Pie and an RC Cola. –Jack Leigh, The Ogeechee: A River & Its People, UGA Press, Athens, 1986.
C. J. Bremer wrote to say that his great-grandfather, G. E. Burns, owned this store in the early 1900s. Bob Dailey recalled: My grandparents lived about 300 yards from Mr. Hazel’s store. I spent the better part of my childhood summers on the front porch of that old store. I had a sack full of penny candy in one hand and the other scratching the ears of Buster or one of the other dogs hanging around. This old building holds a special place in my heart.
Lamar Sanders, a good friend of Vanishing South Georgia, recently shared these archival images from a visit he made to Frawley’s Store in 1984. They are real treasures and offer a glimpse of what makes this place so special. Please credit Mr. Sanders if sharing the archival images.
Lamar notes: Mr. Frawley did not approve of women going down to the river wearing pants instead of dresses, because he thought pants were a sign of sinfulness.
Bob Dailey writes: In winter, my father and other local fishermen sank their wooden paddle boats next to these two trees. My how things have changed.
Lamar Sanders shared this image from 1984. In the 1960s, he worked for the U. S. Geological Survey and regularly took readings of the river levels. Please credit Mr. Sanders if sharing the archival image.