Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Magnolia Cemetery - Augusta, Georgia

Established in the the Fall of 1818, the Magnolia Cemetery is one of the oldest and most unique cemeteries of Georgia.  

As morbid as this may sound, I have always been fascinated with exploring in cemeteries.  I don't quite understand where the idea of how cemeteries are haunted and a space filled with evil spirits.  To me, there is only the sense of Peace, a lasting tribute to lives of our Forefathers, a Sanctuary to the times Past and the place where Memory of it's Community live on.  This to me, is anything but haunted.  The Magnolia Cemetery spans 60 acres of what once was a plantation which laid at the edge of the early 19th century river city of Augusta, but today lies near the downtown.

The Magnolia Cemetery brings together various communities of Augusta.  Within the walls of the cemetery are numerous Christian denominations, multiple Jewish areas, a Greek sector, and a section dedicated to the Confederate Dead.   You can read all the books that you want.  You can visit every battlefield you find.   You can watch what ever documentary you come across on the History Channel.  Although, none of those can make you stop and ponder, "Who was this? What was his story?"  It is a chilling experience to see the marker of a grave to a soldier.  The question I always ask myself when I look down upon the stone that lay at my feet, "What were they fighting for?"  That is getting in touch with History.

The area of the cemetery where I shot these photos range in the time frame of the American Civil War and  continue up to the turn of the 20th century.  The dates seem to stop around the time  of World War I, which I have been trying to discover what happened to the Hebrew Benevolent Society in Augusta.  More to come hopefully...

Ok, With more than two years of military service under my belt, I got a good eyebrow raise at the fact that young LIEUTENANT Belt not only was a part of the Confederate Army, but held a position of authority!

St. James United Methodist Church - Augusta, Georgia

St. James was named after the founder, Reverend James Evans, and built due to the growing congregation of the former St. John Methodist church which was just down the way on Greene Street.  This is one of the first churches that I noticed within the downtown area due to its location.  The church is tucked in at the edge of one of the main roadways to the Heart of Augusta.

The original two story structure was built in 1856 out of local fired brick for a total construction cost of about $9,700.  Later in 1886, the belfry was add and the church building was expanded to further suit the growing church community.
Historical Note: President Eisenhower worshipped at St James in 1954 during his Presidency.

Colonial Fort Augusta/Fort Cornwalis - Augusta, Georgia

Looking from the southern wall of St. Paul's toward the Savannah River stands the  Celtic cross marking the location of Fort Augusta and Fort Cornwalis, which are the same thing, just depends on the year of American History we are discussing.  At the base of the Celtic Cross marker lies a cannon pre-dating the Revolutionary War for General Olgethorpe in order to defend Fort Augusta from the Indian Nations.  The date of the cannon is unknown, however it is believed to have been brought from England in the 1730's.

A view at the cross with the banks of the Savannah River holding back the waters.

St. Paul's Church - Augusta, Georgia

The Mother Church of Augusta
Regarded as the oldest established building claimed to Augusta would be St. Paul's Church.  The first of four churches built on this plot was the gothic church completed and founded by the Church of England in 1750.  Located on what once was Fort Augusta just off the banks of the Savannah River, the first church was burned during the Revolutionary War.  Continuing further on about that era, a notable site to visit within the shadow of the bell tower is the grave site of Colonel William Few, one of the signers of the Constitution of the United States.

Gate to St. Paul's Church

The only relic of the first church that remains is the baptismal font which was shipped over from England in 1751.

The church that stands today was built after the Great Fire of Augusta in 1916 and is a close replica of the 1820 version of the church, only larger to fit the needs of the growing population of the River City.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Butt Memorial Bridge - Augusta, Georgia

This was the first time that I had visited this bridge after living in Augusta for about six months.  When I first noticed it while taking one of the many speedways, I just thought this was just another  bridge... I thought wrong!

The Butt Memorial Bridge has a very unique history behind it.  Dedicated by President Taft in 1914
as the first and only memorial to the sinking of the Titanic in Georgia.  

Born and raised in Augusta, Archibald Butt led a less than desired childhood.  His father died when he was fourteen and left him to care for his mother, Pamela Boggs Butt, who was the sister to the Confederate General William Boggs, and his two siblings.  His first job as working as a librarian and spurred his compassion for reading and writing.  Later, after attending the University of the South inTennessee, he became a reporter in Washington DC for major newspapers in the South.  His reporting  earned him the position of the first Secretary to the American Embassy in Mexico.  Two days into the 20th Century, Butt was commissioned into the United States Army with the position of Captain.  Serving abroad in the Philippines and after returning to the States to Washington DC, he met Theodore Roosevelt.  In 1906, Butt was sent to Cuba to help maintain peace in the area and became Chief Military aide to Roosevelt after being recalled to the States.  In the spring of 1912, Taft encouraged his friend to take a vacation to recover and recuperate since his health had been deteriorating the past few years.  After taking a six-week vacation, Major Butt boarded the RMS Titanic.  As we all know the story, Major Archibald Butt met his fate on April 15, 1912.   
Starting in the 1960's, the Augusta officials contemplated draining the canal in order to build a superhighway, which would have led to the one and only memorial to the Titanic in the State of Georgia and a tribute to one of it's prominent citizens.  Although, with involvement of locals, the canal later became part of the historical district, but the old stone bridge suffered from neglect.  Without any available government funding, the local people took fundraising into their own hands and in the years 1994 and 1995 held summer concerts with the every so catchy title of "Butt Jam" and adopted the slogan "Save Our Butt".

Martha Lester School - Augusta, Georgia

Confederate States Powder Works & Sibley Mill - Augusta, Georgia

Chosen for it's prime central location and being the crossroads of the Savannah River and multiple railroads, Augusta was claimed home to one of the most notable structures, The Confederate Powderworks.  The Powderworks, consisting of 28 buildings, was the only completed permanent building project funded by the Confederate States.  At the time of it's completion, it was the second largest powder mill in the world and had the ability to produce more than enough gun powder to the Confederate cause, about 7,000 pounds per day!

As the last standing monument to the original Powderworks, the chimney tower now known as Obelisk Chimney, has been dedicated to one of it's founders, Colonel Rains.  It is the first and oldest Confederate Monument in the city of Augusta.

As the canal was being expanded after the American Civil War, tearing down some of the 28 original buildings of the Powderworks was in plan.  In 1880, the Sibley Mill Company purchased the remaining buildings and used bricks from the former buildings and built on top of a few of the previous structures.  Using the hydropower that Powderworks utilized, the Sibley Mill became one of the world's highest producers of textiles for companies such as Levi Strauss.  Despite the mill being closed down in 2006, the City of Augusta still uses the water turbines to produce electricity to this day under the control of Georgia Power.  Cresting the top of this neo-gothic edifice which was atypical for structures intended for the purpose of textile milling is the coat of arms of the Sibley family:
                                                           Esse quam videri
                                                To Be, rather than Just Seem.

Lake Olmstead - Augusta, Georgia


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life on the Canal - Augusta, Georgia

Running the Rail - Augusta, Georgia

The Crossbuck
I have another bit of odd information that I learned from a railroad history buff.  The railroad crossing sign, or the more technical term 'crossbuck', was one of the first standard traffic signs of the world.  Mainly due to the fact at the time of their creation no form of transportation really interfered with another: Boats, Horse and Cart, and Walking.  The crossbuck is placed at level-crossings, a part of the railway built up to allow traffic across more easily.  The crossbuck reaches the height of 9 feet whereas the standard height of other traffic signs is only 7 feet.  The reasoning behind that is it facilitates seeing the sign from the back of a horse.  Learn something new everyday! 

The Railway: The Artery of the American Dream.  Winding along their paths for miles on end, the railway bore supplies, livestock, and settlers out to the Unknown of the American West.  It may be a possibility, from the point which I took this shot, a steam driven train may have came from behind me headed west bound...

A benefit to the railroad system is the ability to transport large amounts of cargo at high speeds, but the downfall is building the track to carry that cargo has to be somewhat level.  With the expansion of the railways, bridges have spanned gorges and go under mountains across the world.

Cruising the Canal - Augusta, Georgia

The Augusta Canal symbolizes the artery to the heart of the city.  Built to provide power and energy to one of the most noted industrial cities of the South, water to the flourishing city, and transportation to many over the river-goers of the 19th century.  Engineered to connect two parts of the Savannah River and to utilize the fall line which is just north of the city as a source of power.  With embracing the new age form of energy, the modern world of industry boomed in textiles due to the cotton and iron works such as Lombard Iron Works which made the shafts and mounts for this levee.

Although the Augusta Canal supplies the citizens with water and gave way for barges to move inward to the mills, this canal is the only on in the world that is used for what it was built to do: Power the Mills.
River boat tour rippling the mirror

Discovering treasures depends upon the person.  For some it might be that Mother-lode of gold, others a cherry red 1969 Camaro, but to me it is learning the History.  What happened here and better yet, why here?