The Historic Savannah-Ogeechee Barge Canal is one of the prime relics in the history of southern canals. Chartered in 1824, the Savannah – Ogeechee Canal was constructed between 1826 and 1830 by African and Irish laborers who moved thousands of cubic yards of earth. A boon to Georgia’s economy, the canal transported local crops and goods from the inland plantations along the Ogeechee River to the busy shipping port of Savannah. The lumber industry revived canal usage following a Civil War-era lull, but a series of yellow fever epidemics, blamed on the canal, caused a further decline. The canal closed in the early 1890s as the Central of Georgia Railroad served transportation needs.
Beginning with the tidal lock at the Savannah River, the waterway continues through four lift locks as it traverses 16 1/2 miles, before reaching another tidal lock at the Ogeechee River. Along the way, the canal passed through Savannah’s 19th Century industrial corridor, former rice fields, timber tracks, and a still lush tidal river swamp and adjacent sandhill environment that is the characteristic habitat for several unique species of flora and fauna.
Today, a century after the canal ceased commercial operations, local citizens have started to restore and interpret the waterway and its natural environment.
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