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Friday, October 7, 2011


Yesterday, we were hosted by Michael Thomas of CUMBERLAND CONTRACTORS, INC. at the grounds of SPANKY'S Bar and Restaurant. Michael also made arrangements for SPIA to park tonight at at SKIPPERS Fish Camp in the town of DARIEN, GEORGIA, 17 miles North of BRUNSWICK. Thank you again Michael for being so kind.

Please say HELLO to Hillary.

Last night I visited SPANKY'S for a late bite. Their Brunswick Stew was so good, I just had to have another go at it for lunch today ($5.50 for a large bowl).

Hillary was our server for lunch. Hillary and I had a on-going conversation each time she walked by my table...and refused my $$. Thank you ever so much Hillary for picking up my lunch tab.

A BRUNSWICK Home on US 17.

A block of Condo Buildings...complete except for residents. There are many empty business buildings along US 17 in BRUNSWICK. I did not venture into town.

At daybreak, I left SPIA parked and walked North on US 17 for about 9 miles and returned to enjoy that marvelous Stew for lunch. Then, SPIA, SAM & ME drove to the next town, DARIEN, GEORGIA, which turns out to be quite the historic place.

Along the way I walked past a number of "gated" communities such as the above Palm Lake Estates.

As I returned to SPANKY'S, storm clouds moved in off the Atlantic Ocean backdropping this dramatic scene looking across the marsh to the Atlantic Ocean.

The 30-mile long marsh is threaded with a number of small creeks. Since the marsh is close to Sea Level, there is plenty of water...most of which is "tidal"; i.e., fills up at high tide and drains down at low tide.

Arriving at DARIAN, GEORGIA, I decided to visit the local KING GEORGE FORT, the very first fort in Georgia, built in 1721 on the site of a former Indian Village on the banks of the Altmaha River.

Copying from Georgia State Parks Brochure:

From 1721 until 1736, Fort King George was the Southern outpost of the British Empire in North America. A cypress (lumber hand cut from cypress trees) blockhouse, barracks and palisaded earthen fort were constructed by Scotsmen led by Colonel John "'Tuscarora Jack" Barnwell. For the next seven years, His Majesty's Independent Company garrisoned the fort. They endured incredible hardships from disease, threats of Spanish and Indian attacks, and the harsh unfamiliar coastal environment. After the fort was abandoned, General James Oglethorpe brought Scottish Highlanders to the site in 1736. The settlement, called DARIEN, eventually became a foremost export center of lumber until 1925.

Red Cedar Trees standing along the public pathway leading to the reconstructed Fort King George.

A saltwater pond is all that remains from extensive works of Sawmills located at the previous site of Fort King George. This pond was flooded at high tide (the Altamaha River is tidal). Under the bottom of the pond was constructed elaborate water tunnels leading to an underground water wheel which provided power for large band saws which cut millions of board feet of Cypress and Yellow Pine which was shipped on Clipper Ships over the entire world until as late as 1925.

For many years,. the town of DARIEN, GEORGIA was a leading Seaport on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

An actual band saw blade on display at the entrance of Fort King George.

A painting of rafting timber cut at the Fort King George sawmill.

Please double-click to enlarge.

Double Click, please.
Pit Saw reconstruction.

The entire Fort King George has been reconstructed using copies of the original British blueprints.

When attacked, defenders retreated into the above Blockhouse. The large holes in the walls were used for firing large cannon at the attackers. The smaller holes were for rifle sharpshooters.

Parade Ground located in the center of Fort King George. The surrounding buildings housed the Blockhouse, Barracks, Dining / Meeting Hall, Animal Barns, Forge, and Bakery.

Dining / Meeting Hall.

Dining / Meeting Hall.

On the fireplace mantle sit wine barrels. The horizontal cask has a wooden spout. The standing cask has a "Bung" protruding from the "Bung Hole" in the center.

Cooking pot on a pivoting bracket in the fireplace.

Bakery Oven. (?)

Forge Shop. This is where "metal" implements are made by getting them extremely HOT in the furnace. A large BELLOWS forces air into the furnace to increase the heat. The hot metal implement is then shaped on the ANVIL in the foreground by hitting it with a hammer . A bucket of water is alongside to "quench" (harden) the metal by cooling it quickly.

Such a forge shop in the Old West was operated by a Smithie.

Look very closely at the top of the above cannon about one inch behind the second flange. There is a tiny hole - called a "Touch Hole", which is the key to firing this brute. This is a cannon as used for centuries around the world.

The above cannon fires a ball (usually iron, but in the early days, stone balls were also used) of about 3 inches diameter. To fire the beast, the following is required:

Clean the inside of the barrel thoroughly with a wet mop, followed by a dry mop.

Insert a bag of black powder, ramming it home with a VERY LARGE "Q-tip".

Insert a cotton "Wad" to hold the bag of black powder in position (sometimes use 2 Wads).

Using the Q-tip, ram the Wad firmly - but gently - against the black powder bag.

Roll the cannon ball into the barrel.

Insert another cotton "Wad" to prevent the canon ball from rolling out of the barrel...on sailing ships, guns gyrate wildly up and down. Ram the Wad firmly against the canon ball.

Using a sharp "Needle", punch a hole into the Black Powder Bag by inserting the needle down the touch hole (the black powder bag is directly below the hole).

Drop a small hand full of black "Priming" powder into the touch hole, filling it to the top.

Move the gun carriage into position by rolling it to the firing position...move it right / left using "Pikes" - to aim it at the target.

Using a "Slow Match" - something like a Fourth Of July Sparkler, but made of cloth (the slow match is kept smoldering in a sand-filled bucket and when needed, is swung vigorously in a circle to get the "spark" really hot)... touch the Slow Match to the black powder grains in the tiny hole.

Make sure to keep feet and body out of the way as the gun "Truck / Carriage" flies backward as the result of the ball hurtling out the front ...i.e., for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction ...or something like that. There are ropes attached to "turning blocks" to hold the gun carriage (truck) from getting loose. These ropes are also used to move the truck forward and back on the truck wheels.

The internal powder bag goes BOOM, forcing the cotton wads and the ball out the front of the cannon...the cotton wads come out on fire and sometimes do damage to the shooter. For that reason, there is a bucket of water next to the canon.

To fire the next ball, repeat above.

A gun crew is made up of 3 or 4 folks. A cleaner/rammer, a loader, a shooter, and a Gun Captain.

A canon sitting in firing position. A lookout Watch Tower is next to the cannon.

A Four Holer (Latrine).

A close-up of the Watch Tower...there is usually one tower at each corner of the fort.

Enlisted Men's Barracks.

On a ship, those bunks have 18 inches vertical space between them...and there is no mattress or sheets / pillows. A canvas is all that is provided to lie upon. I know, as I twice crossed the Pacific Ocean by military ship during the Korean War (our bunks were in large rooms, each room holding 250 men). To roll over, the "sleeper" had to get out of his "bunk", turn around and roll back in. The bunks were stacked 8 high. To get to the upper bunks, one had to climb the metal pipes holding the lower canvas "beds" in place. Ugly...really ugly !

Lighting for the barracks.

The inside of the Blockhouse. The cannon fired through the large windows. Men with long rifles fired through the small windows.

Please click click to enlarge.

Please say HELLO to Paul Lynch, Georgia State Parks Ranger greeting visitors to Fort King George.

Michael arranged for our parking / dining in DARIEN. This is our home for the night...the entrance of Skippers Fish Camp. I was treated to a delicious Fish Stew and Garden Salad, helped down by repeated glasses of Ice Tea...thank you Michael and the crew of Skippers.

Skippers Bar, where I enjoyed din din. Next door is the family sit-down restaurant offering the same fare.

Earlier in the day, I was treated to this bottle of Lager from the OLDEST BREWERY IN THE UNITED STATES. Click click to read the label. It is truly an excellent beer.

A TURKEY VULTURE. I have seen many hundreds of these flying beasts in every part of America, except in the far North West. Many a time a dozen or so circled above my head as I walked across desolate countryside.

This is the head of the Wild Boar of Georgia. These animals usually live in the swamps and range from the Atlantic Ocean all the way into Texas.

A Weather Front moving in on DARIEN, GEORGIA.

The fishing boat is a "shrimper" tied to the dock on the Darien River at the foot of Skippers.

Looking East toward the Atlantic Ocean along the Darien River from the deck of Skippers.

This is Skippers water fountain...full of live turtles and an Alligator Gar (a fish).

I enjoyed a very pleasant day today. In the morning, I will take some time to explore the town of DARIEN, GEORGIA, and take a stroll North on US 17 towards the big city of SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, about 3 days walk away.


Aimee @ Just Kidding Around Atlanta said...

I've never heard of the Fort you visited, but it's now on my list of things to take my kiddos to. My son really enjoyed your photos of it! We drove down 95 yesterday and once we got to Florida it was rainy - still raining today and tomorrow too - not the best weekend to be here, I guess!! Stay dry, and enjoy your time in Darien. I can't wait to read about your Savannah experiences!

Gated Communities in Georgia said...

Thanks for a wonderful details.........

Rick Bailey said...

That is an american turkey not a turkey vulture. Gr8 info on the loading and firing of the cannon.
Favourite movie is Master Commander Far Side of the World.