Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/603

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599
OKEFINOKEE SWAMP

1878, and a list of them in a pamphlet describing this exhibit seems to be the first authentic botanical information about the swamp ever published. The descriptions of this region in Dr. Loughridge's report on cotton production of Georgia, in the sixth volume of the Tenth Census, are derived from the author's connection with the same expedition.

Several years later, at a time when public interest in everything pertaining to the Okefinokee was heightened by circumstances to be mentioned below, Mr. Louis Pendleton, brother of Col. C. E. Pendleton, combined the historical incident of the deserters with his brother's experiences in the swamp into a story quite true to life, entitled "In the Okefenokee," which was published in six chapters in the Youth's Companion in August and September, 1894. (In the same paper a year later there appeared a short story entitled "Life in the Okefenokee," which must have been written by some one who had never seen the swamp.)

Until the last decade of the nineteenth century the greater part of Okefinokee Swamp was included in the public lands of Georgia, never having been claimed by private parties. In 1889 the legislature decided to dispose of the state's remaining interest in it, and in March, 1890, it was sold for 2612 cents an acre to a syndicate organized for the purpose, headed by Capt. Henry Jackson, of Atlanta, and styled the Suwanee[1] Canal Company. This company's purchase from the state amounted to about 380 square miles, and the remainder of the area was gradually acquired from private parties who held it. The object of this company was primarily to convert the timber in the swamp into cash, and the necessary surveys having been made, work began in the fall of 1891. From Camp Cornelia (named after Capt. Jackson's daughter), near the middle of the eastern margin of the swamp, a canal about 45 feet wide and 6 feet deep was gradually cut by dredges, working day and night by the aid of electric search-lights, and progressing toward the middle of the swamp (see map) at the rate of about three miles a year. At the same time an enormous ditch was dug from the same place to the nearest point on the St. Mary's River, about six miles away, by which it was intended first to float logs out to the river and finally to drain the swamp. This ditch was practically completed by 1894, but the company then found it more feasible to erect a sawmill at Camp Cornelia and ship the sawn lumber, by a railroad constructed for the purpose, to Polkston on the Savannah, Florida & Western Railway (now Atlantic Coast Line) and Bull Head Bluff on the Satilla River.

While this work was going on Capt. Jackson visited the Okefinokee about once a month, sometimes staying a week or more at a time, and


  1. Suwannee is usually spelled with two n's, but in the official designation of this company it had only one.