17 June 2008


Ok, this is the Okefenokee Swamp, Literally "bubbling water" or "trembling earth" in the local Hitchiti language. It is just west of where we live, and at 438,000 acres, is one of the nations best known swamps. Most of it is under control of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, with some parts of it in private hands for tourism. A couple months ago we decided to come visit since in over three years of living here we still had not been to it. There are a few different ways to get in, the closest to us being the official Wildlife Refuge entrance near the town of Folkston. In 2007, a series of large wildfires burned most of the swamp, but as you will see, it recovers very quickly. The swamp was formed by the accumulation of peat in a shallow basin on the edge of the Atlantic coastal terrace, a relic of an ancient estuary. Two famous rivers, the Suwanee and the St Marys, both originat ein the swamp. The area had long been used for logging, turpentine production, and other industries prior to becoming a refuge. It has also been directly or indirectly referenced in numerous pop culture items, such as MASH, Scooby Doo, the Xanth novels, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Roger Rabbit, who went to the "OkeyDokey Swamp."
Alas, this is the only gator we saw all day, but it is a beauty! And didn't seem to mind us a bit.

This is the Chesser homestead. The area was settled in the late 1800's by W.T. Chesser and his family, who grew sugar cane, tobacco and turpentine. The first homestead was south of this one, which was built by his son, Tom, in 1927. The home has been maintained by the park as an example of how local pioneers made a living in the forbidding swamp.

Boardwalk heading into the swamp

Observation tower

Views from the tower

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