Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Riparian Life - Savannah River

Lasting remnants to the old South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company and one of the only pieces of evidence to the once upon a time Hamburg, South Carolina.  Spanning across the state from what is now Augusta, Georgia, to Charleston, South Carolina, this railroad was the longest single stretch of railway in the world at the time it began running agricultural produce and travelers in 1833 up until the outbreak of the American Civil war.  Part from being the longest span of rail, this track also used the modern pattern which railways still use to this day enabling multiple trains to make stops such as Columbia, Aiken, and many others without holding up passing locomotives.

Augusta at sunset
CSX railway trestle across the Savannah River 

Seen Better Days - North Augusta, South Carolina

Following a two track utility road off of Rivernorth Drive,
I stumbled upon this peculiar skeleton of a home that I believe to be built
around the 1950's judging by the size and the retro design to it's exterior.

Now, overcome by the elements,
the remainder of this structure will most likely
be as a trellis for the wild vines that blanket over it's walls.

Old Jeep

Wetland Wonders - North Augusta, South Carolina

At the edge of The River Golf Club on the Savannah River is a great place to enjoy the small wonders of the area!  Right next to the Greenway, this area is full of trails that anyone can enjoy for a quiet walk at dusk or that early morning bike ride.  I find myself down by the banks of the Savannah River or the nearby wetlands that curtain it's curvy path toward the great Atlantic to discover the beauty of Nature and of the Peace not defined as void of the city sounds and chaos, but filled with the songs of the birds, the lapping of the water's turmoil, the wind rustling leaves of the trees, Nature's Peace.

Jefferson Davis Memorial Bridge - Augusta, Georgia

Built in 1931 after the massive flood of 1929 wiped nearly everything out in it's path from the headwaters of the Savannah River in northeastern Georgia.  From a statement made by the Weather Bureau Chief in Augusta on September 26, 1929, "there is no danger whatever in regards to the levee."  due to the threat of the storms from the hurricane approaching from the south.  According to articles of the Augusta Chronicle they all thought that Augusta was too far inland to even worry about the tropical storm could possible bring... They were all wrong.  They forgot to take into consideration the heavy amounts of rainfall that were to come with the storm, which in turn raised the water level of the Savannah to this highest in it's recorded history.  The wrath of the river struck early in the morning on the 28th as the river crested at 46.3 feet in the matter of hours.  For the past decade prior to the flood, the city council had been at a stalemate as to building up the levees and flood dikes alongside the riverbanks, but as the Citizens of Augusta watched from the dikes that held parts of bridges, homes, and whatever else found itself in the swift sweep of the Savannah that day pass by.  It was near the site of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Bridge, known as the 5th Street Bridge today, that the old levee gave out and in turn flooding hundreds of blocks of the downtown, forcing thousands to flee to the higher ground and most of the area out of electricity for most of the power plants were located on the river edge and were either inundated with water or completely destroyed.

After the dikes had been rebuilt and reinforced, it was time to construct a bridge to suit the increasing traffic across the river, thus the birth of the Jefferson Davis Bridge.  Spanning the river with steel stringers on top of brick and concrete pilings to hopefully withstand the flood waters should they ever return.  Currently the Bridge is eligible for a National Historic Marker but has not been awarded it just yet, but hopefully it will be so it does not fade out of memory of Augusta's History.

View of the boat docks on the Georgia side at sunset from the bridge.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Inside Saint Paul's - Augusta, Georgia

As the Spring Performance of the 61st Season, Augusta Choral Society presented Ein Deutches Requiem by one of the most notable Romantic Period composers,  Johannes Brahms.
Part from being in one of the most beautiful and historically important churches to the City of Augusta, the execution of this piece by the Chorus and the accompanying musicians was stellar!  After the performance I felt as if my inner being was filled with ardent sensation!

I have a feeling that I will be attending  as many productions of the Augusta Choral Society as I can, whether it be as a spectator or even someday as a member!

Flags that have flown over Saint Paul's throughout it's enduring history.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Historic Home of A. H. Stephens - Crawfordville, Georgia

Tucked away just off of Interstate 20 between Atlanta and Augusta, this little rustic town of 572 residents along the Antebellum Trail of Georgia is home to serene natural beauty and intriguing Southern history!

            Alexander Hamilton Stephens

           - Zealous and Fiery Politician -
  Making numerous marks within Georgian History, this served first as a Representative, then in the Senate, from there served as the Vice President of the Confederate States!  After being arrested in his home, behind his statue pictured to the right, after the collapse of the Confederacy and taken to Boston Harbor for about five months at Fort Warren.  Upon his release and return to Georgia, he did not waste time before getting involved in politics in the Reconstruction Era.  Many of his political maneuvers changed the history of this Nation in more than one way, fighting, despite his small size and stature, for what he believed up to the day he passed serving as the 50th Governor of the state of Georgia in 1883.  Author of two books that I hope to get my hands on someday, The Constitutional View of the Late War between the States and The History of the United States from 1871 to 1883, especially the latter to see the take on American History from the Vice President of the Confederate States of America!

Taliaferro County Courthouse - Crawfordville, Georgia

Named in honor of an  American Revolution officer by the name of Col. Benjamin Taliaferro, this county is unique in more than one way. From the 2010 Census, this county can claim fame to having the smallest population in a  county east of the Mississippi River! Part from being the home town to Alexander H. Stephens, numerous films have also used this austere town as a set such as Sweet Home Alabama.

Downtown Madison - Madison, Georgia

Valuing it's small town character, the City of Madison earned the title of being the "Prettiest Small Town in America" in 2001 by Holiday Travel and is one of the largest historic districts in the state of Georgia with well over a hundred Antebellum homes.  With recent restoration of the Antebellum homes which are said to be spared from Sherman's March to the Sea because of the favor of the local resident and former Senator Joshua Hill.  He and General Sherman's brother had both attended West Point and with Hill's Unionist views, the city was left in peace.  

Surviving the turmoils of the American Civil War, but falling victim to the Fire of 1869 left most of the wood framed structures razed to the ground.  Rebuilding of the downtown area with the classic red brick and local stone lead to the increase of commercial and staple trade with the growth of the railroads.  Today, most of revenue of the downtown is brought in by the large number of tourists that are attracted to the local venue, such as myself!  Any visitor can find a shop or restaurant to satisfy there leisure adventure to Madison, mine just happened to be at Scoops ice cream shop!  Pay them a quick visit if you ever find yourself in the county seat of Madison!

Famed for it's Classical and Victorian homes from the Antebellum Era of the South, Madison is a in the heart of the Mansions of the South along with numerous other beautiful landmarks of Georgia!

Morgan County Courthouse - Madison, Georgia

Casulon Manision - Good Hope, Georgia

Struck by Suspicious Fire
The historic estate of the former plantation of 10,000 acres, home to numerous of the local areas festivals along with a Civil War annual reenactment, went up in flames, almost! Said to have sent flames 100 feet into the air on the night of 25 May, 2002, also in the heat of the divorce of the owners, which happened to be out of state at the time adds to the suspicion behind the tragedy. 

On the Apalachee - North High Shoals, Georgia

Drawing the dividing line for Walton and Oconee Counties, the Apalachee River courses it's way past the small town of North High Shoals onward to Lake Oconee in the heart of Georgia.

The Greeks - Athens, Georgia

Two among the many historic homes along Prince Avenue in the angelic city of Athens, the Taylor-Grady House and the President's House.

The Taylor-Grady was constructed in 1844 by Irish immigrant and wealthy cotton merchant Robert Taylor.  At the time of his death in 1859, he had acquired 17,000 acres of property throughout the state of Georgia, which at that time was valued at $450,000.  I can't imagine what that value would be in today's market!  The home was purchased by Major William Grady in 1863 while he was on furlough from the war would become the home of the prominent figure in the Reconstruction of Georgia, Henry W. Grady.  Now the home is owned by the city of Athens and offers tours, which I did not know at the time when I was walking past, but hopefully some day I will make that tour!

The President's House, the Grant House, the Benjamin Hill House, the Bradshaw House, the White House are some of the numerous names given to this Greek.  Raised in 1856 by a Virginia man and railroad pioneer John T. Grant, but with the onslaught of the Civil War, Grant suffered from the dwindling economy of the southern states which his prospects depended on.  Turning the ownership over to one of the prominent politicians of Georgia's Confederate and Reconstruction history, Benjamin Harvey Hill.  Then purchased by the founder of the First National Bank of Athens, Mr. James White and inherited by his daughter who was married to William Bradshaw, and the couple turned the property over to the University of Georgia to serve as the President's House!  

Steeples - Athens, Georgia

Much like her classical namesake of Athens, Greece, this northern Georgia city is home to the most distinguished institution of higher education of the state, a vibrant array of different cultures with a blend of the world's religions.  Rising above the tops of the trees, I could pin point the steeples of various temples of worship that I wanted to go see from the City Hall at the west edge of the downtown area.  Just one block south of the City Hall is the First United Methodist church (above) and these images really do not convey how tall that steeple really is!  Two other churches that I found to be unique in design were the First Christian Church at the bottom of the hill on Prince Avenue from the downtown and the Emmanuel Episcopal church, a little further down on Prince near the antebellum mansions of Athens. 

Athens City Hall - Athens, Georgia

As a surviving structure from the Antebellum era, the City Hall's construction began in 1845 when enough funds had been gathered to build this charming city center.  At the time of construction, this building was not only intended to serve as a municipal building but also a market for local merchants and traders, an auditorium for entertainment, and as a calaboose or more commonly known as a jail.   Standing on a foundation of Lexington granite and built with oolitic limestone bricks same as that of the bricks used to erect the Empire State building and the Pentagon.  Crowning the top of the copper cupola housing a handcrafted four-faced clock is an eagle with a wingspan of eight feet.  Reaching to a height of 99 feet, the city hall watches over Athens from her hilltop position.

For almost a hundred years, the clock was manually operated.  The clock keeper, often a janitor, would have to make the climb up five flights of stairs to wind the weights to keep the clock ticking on time.  Another interesting fact is that the eagle at the top of the cupola was initially intended to be used as a wind vane but due to it's heavy weight it is now just an ornament adorning this classic building.