Savannah Georgia, Day 1

From the State Park, we are only 8 miles away from central Savannah.   We firstly went to Wormsloe State Historic Site.  This site was a grand plantation in it’s time and the entrance to it has an ornate arch way with a 1.5 mile drive way of 400 year old arching live oaks, again the Spanish Moss swaying in the breeze like seaweed in a tidal current.  There are mites that live on the Spanish Moss called Chiggers, apparently they give a very nasty bite if you get them on your skin.  During the days of colonisation, unsuspecting people stuffed their mattresses with this moss, this is where the saying, ‘Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’ came from…

 

The drive way is beautiful, but we chose not to pay to go into the historic site down the long driveway.  The original plantation house is still there and still owned, (9th generation) by the original family, but this is not open to the public, only some historic remains can be seen.  This was a sea island cotton plantation using slave labour in it’s heyday.  The Plantation sits on Moon River, made famous by the lyricist Johnny Mercer, who wrote over 1400 songs and came from Savannah.

We decided instead to go into Savannah.  We got there in no time and headed straight for Chippewa Square, which is pretty central, but it’s also the square where the opening scene from Forrest Gump was filmed, when Forrest is sitting on the park bench talking about life being a box of chocolates-some people were there trying to figure out exactly where he sat-the bench is no longer here, it was a prop!

Chippewa Square is actually one of 22 green squares (small parks) in the city centre.  General James Oglethorpe from the UK established the colony of Georgia in 1733.  Breaking in Georgia must have been a hellish task back then, it would have all be covered in virgin forest, marsh and swamp.  He cleared the land in the state(with some assistance…) and developed Savannah during his 10 year stay.  He planned for this city to be green and trees and parks to be established.  He was clearly a talented town planner as the city today is beautiful with 400 year old live oaks stretching their limbs across streets. This is the southern scene and feel I had hoped to see down here.  This city is what I thought New Orleans would look like…

Oglethorpe seemed to have been a decent chap.  He got onside with the local Indians, the Yamacraw, and befriended the chief Tomochichi, even taking him and others to England to meet the King and Queen.  He got his full agreement and permission before bringing over colonists from the UK to settle in Savannah.  It all seems to have been most congenial and they remained great friends until Tomochichi death when he was well into his nineties.  During the great potato famine of Ireland, Oglethorpe also allowed many unexpected Irish to land, so many infact that at one point they made up 20% of the population here.  I wondered why there were so many Irish pubs in Savannah when we were wandering around there today.

We walked extensively through the city,

…including the river area.  Apparently the cobble stones in this area were infact ballast the ships used when coming over from the UK to pick up the cotton grown in these parts.  They off loaded their ballast and sailed back again.

-in the morning it had been refreshingly cloudy with the temp in the 80’s for the first time since we left Oregon.  By the afternoon the sun was out and the temperature rose so much so that we couldn’t walk any longer.  However we decided to extend our stay here another day and will explore again tomorrow.