South Georgia Snowstorm, 2018
Tag Archives: South Georgia Landscapes
Were it not for the name Suomi Road, there would be no hint that such a strange-named (for rural South Georgia) place ever existed. The origins of the name are lost to history, but John Goff (Placenames of Georgia, UGA Press, Athens, 2007) proposed that it was likely settled in the 1870s or 1880s when the lumber industry and the Dodge Land Wars were in full swing. It’s located very close to Normandale, a historical community that was the epicenter of the Dodge Lumber operations. Goff guesses that another mill may have been located here and that a railroad siding or station was probably given the name Suomi (in honor of the Finnish word for Finland) by Finnish lumbermen who may have been working in the area. They were most certainly transient workers as Goff posited no evidence of Finnish surnames in the area. The area has a Chauncey address today.
The blackwater Seventeen Mile River can be hard to find, largely due to the fact that it’s considered an “ephemeral river”. This means that it’s dry as often as it’s wet, often more so. Much of it is located on private property, as well. The best place to see this natural wonder is at General Coffee State Park.
If you’re a fisherman, the best time to visit is after a good period of rain. As a navigable stream, the Seventeen Mile River is nearly impenetrable, but several open “lakes” provide good places to fish.
Gar Lake, seen here, is one of the easiest to access.
The park prides itself on being one of the best kept secrets in the state. Its protection has enabled rare plants with limited ranges like the Green-fly Orchid (Epidendrum magnoliae) and Narrow-leaf Barbara’s Buttons (Marshallia tenuifolia) to survive. Native and introduced ferns are abundant here, as well.
Macrothelypteris torresiana, known as Torres or Mariana Maiden Fern, is fairly common here. Though widely cultivated for its beauty, it’s a non-native and therefore considered invasive.
Woodwardia areolata, or Netted Chain Fern, is a widespread native and likely much more recognizable.
Evidence of the naval stores industry can be found scattered around the river, as seen in the “catface” scar on this pine.
Several long boardwalks provide easy access to the river and swamps and make for one of the most peaceful walks in South Georgia.
Many would just call this a swamp. I think of it as a piece of paradise.
Cypress is dominant here.
The knees are visible everywhere, especially in the dry beds interspersed throughout the landscape.
Known locally as “The Rocks”, this site in the Salem community of northwestern Ben Hill County seems out of place in the Coastal Plain landscape surrounding it. It’s been an area landmark for at least a century but there is no general access. I’m unable to give directions to the site.
For years these geological features were informally identified as Ashburn formations (Wharton, The Natural Environments of Georgia, Atlanta, 1978, et al.) , after the first well-documented site of this type, located off Highway 41 north of Ashburn. Since I’m not a geologist, I don’t know if they’re related to the well-known Altamaha formations (or Altamaha grit). I suspect they may be grouped together at this point. Recent scholarship suggests they may be remnants of coral reefs near the ancient shoreline. Still others believe they’re meteoric in origin.
It’s looks quite small from some perspectives but the largest rock is actually nearly twenty feet high.
Boulders like the ones seen below can also be found in random nearby locations.
This is an important natural heritage site and I hope it remains in pristine condition for years to come.