Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center
This was the website for the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center in the early 2000's. It was active on the web for several years before the domain's registration expired and the site disappeared. Having bought the domain I am recreating some of the content from archived pages. Outside sourced content has also been added.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Savannah-Ogeechee Barge Canal is one of the prime examples that is still visible of the extensive network of former southern canals. Beginning with the tidal lock at the Savannah River, the waterway continues through four lift locks as it traverses 16.5 miles before reaching another tidal lock at the Ogeechee River.
The Savannah Ogeechee Canal was an important and profitable enterprise during the mid 1800's. Originally chartered for construction in 1824, the 16.5 miles of canal was not completed until December of 1830.
Numerous problems (such as decay of wooden locks and repeated erosion of embankments) plagued the canal during its early days of operation.
By 1836 the parent company declared bankruptcy, and a new company was formed which widened and improved existing structures within the canal.
Through the 1840's and into the 1860's, the canal prospered and was an important element in the south Georgia economy.
A century after the canal ceased commercial operations, local citizens have started to restore and interpret the waterway and its natural environment. In conjunction with the Chatham County Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Department, the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society is working to turn the canal into a multi-purpose linear park. Currently, most of the effort is expended at the Ogeechee River terminus where a small museum and nature center is open to visitors near Lock 5 with displays that emphasize both the canals history and the natural history of the local area. A half-mile walk along with Heel or Tow paths provides a delightful and attractive setting to enjoy this unique waterway.
IF YOU GO:
Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum
681 Fort Argyle Road
Savannah, GA 31419
Take Exit 94 off Interstate 95 onto Ga. 204 (Fort Argyle Road). Travel west approximately two miles. The entrance to the site is on the left.
Through interpretive exhibits and artifact displays, the public can learn about the unique history of the Savannah Ogeechee Canal at the Museum. Visitors are able to view the remnants of Canal Locks 5 and 6 and see a replica gate and lock model. The Nature Center consists of 184 acres of river swamp, pine flatwoods, and sandhill habitat with low-impact walking trails throughout the area. The Nature Center supports a diverse assemblage of resident and migratory birds as well as reptiles and other animal life. At the gopher tortoise habitat, visitors can observe this threatened species.
The Museum and Nature Center is home to Georgia's state tree the live oak, Georgia's state flower the Cherokee rose, Georgia's state wildflower the wild azalea, and Georgia's state reptile the gopher tortoise. The state bird, the brown thrasher can also be seen around the Nature Center.
The Savannah Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center is proud to be a part of the Colonial Coast Birding Trail, Georgia's Civil War Trails, and the Coastal Georgia Greenway. The Savannah Ogeechee Canal is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
9 AM - 5 PM
7 days a week
Students (K-12th grade) & Senior Citizens $1
Children under 5 Free
Fun Things To Do
Visit the nature center and museum to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. Pick up checklists for wildflowers, reptiles and amphibians. Look for the fascinating wildlife residents of this diverse landscape. Examine the old locks constructed along the banks of the canal.
There are a number of routes to follow in the park. Begin at the museum and walk several yards south to Lock #5 (there is an interpretive sign near the lock). This is a good starting point for the hike. Continue south along the tow path, by the side of the canal. On this wide bank the mules that would tow the barges walked up and down the length of the canal. The banks are now home to large cypress trees that did not exist when the canal was being used. Slaves (before 1865, freedmen after) ran the canal, keeping the mules pulling the heavy barges. As you continue south a marsh spreads out across the canal, filled with wildlife typical of a large river flood plain. On our early morning walk we spotted numerous birds, including a couple of large pelicans.
A gazebo welcomes you at the end of the trail, although you can continue on for a short distance.
On the return you can stroll along an old road that served the workers on the canal or wander into the woods on the enthusiastically named "Laurel Ridge" Trail.
The first time I visited the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center I had just returned from a two week vacation. Our family had stayed at a lovely Maui condo rental. It's was the first time we had stayed in a rental rather than hotel rooms. I will never go back to hotel rooms on a vacation if their is the option of staying in a condo rental. Everyone had space to spread out. We saved money by eating many meals at the condo with its great view of the Pacific Ocean. Every night we sat out on our lanai (outside porch) to watch the sun set- and the sunsets were spectacular. Since the condo rental was in a Maui resort we were able to take advantage of all the resort's concierge services. It was great. But I digress. I wanted to compare the hikes we took in exotic tropical Maui to the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal hikes. Each were fun and interesting. We were at the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal when the forest was lush and green which was reminiscent of our Maui walks through its rain forests. The plants and trees were different, but our kids had fun discovering all sorts of things. My older daughter was so taken with the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum and its history that she wrote a paper on the canals when she returned to school. All our kids enjoyed the Nature Center as well. This is one little gem worth visiting if you are in the area.