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The river of my childhood

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posted on May, 31 2010 @ 09:48 AM

The Altamaha: river of my childhood

I often mention the river of my childhood in my post. Sometimes, almost to the point of going off topic. I guess now is about as good a time as any to let you know why..

The first time I ever set eyes on this river, so I'm told, was from the bridge where this picture was taken. Just under it is the landing where I tore my grandfather's boat motor all to hell at the age of 8; where my feet first felt the river's warm, comforting touch. Later in life it is where I would scatter my grandfather's ashes at the age of 19. I prefer that memory, however sad it was at the time, over any other, because I know he ended up getting to rest forever in the river he loved so much. I can only hope for the same.

Every day I wake up to the Altamaha. Every night I sleep so close that I can hear her waters when she is full and flowing. Never ending..

For thousands of years the mighty Altamaha River has flowed unimpeded through south central Georgia, ever bound for the sea. Formed by the confluence of the Ocmulgee, Oconee and Ohoopee Rivers near Lumber City, the Altamaha River watershed is the largest river system east of the Mississippi, offering priceless habitat along its 140 mile course. Over 100 species of rare or endangered plants and animals find shelter in this basin, including the Georgia spiny mussel, Atlantic sturgeon, the swallow-tailed kite, the American oyster catcher and the piping plover. Further inland, the watershed includes old stands of long leaf pine, colonies of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher turtles, Alabama milk vine (Matelea alabamensis) and other rare plants.

In 1999 the Mexico-based Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network recognized the Altamaha River Delta in Glynn and McIntosh Counties as a major reserve for shorebirds, one of only 40, highlighting its importance as a stopover for migratory and wintering birds traveling between the Arctic and South America. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources estimates this area supports at least 55,000 species of seabirds and shorebirds annually, stating "There are very few places as valuable to such a large and diverse number of coastal birds in all the southeast United States."

Designated a Bio reserve in 1991 by The Nature Conservancy, The Altamaha River is on their list of 75 "Last Great Places" in the world. Currently, a 6 year $4.2 million dollar project funded thru a grant from the National Science Foundation involves researchers from the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island, Georgia Tech, Indiana University and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Focusing on the Altamaha River's complex system of water movement, this study will help to clarify relationships between intertidal creeks and marshes as well as long term trends in land use patterns and the withdrawal of freshwater from the watershed.



Although used in the 19th century as a route for commerce between central Georgia and the coast, the river is nearly entirely still in its natural state.

The Altamaha River flows through a flood plain up to five miles (8 km) wide and consisting of some of the last remaining hardwood bottom lands and cypress swamps in the American South. As the river approaches the Atlantic Ocean it becomes a broad estuary. At least 120 species of rare or endangered plants and animals live in the Altamaha River watershed, including eleven species of pearly mussels, seven of which are endemic to the Altamaha. The river basin also supports the only known example of old growth Long leaf Pine and Black oak forest in the United States. Other notable species include Short nose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, West Indian manatee, Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi), Greenfly orchid, and Georgia plume. The unusual Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha), now extinct in the wild, was found by John Bartram along the Altamaha River in 1765. Bartram sent seeds from the trees to England and planted some in his garden in Philadelphia, where some presumably still live.

In prehistoric times the Timucua people occupied northern Florida and a portion of Georgia reaching as far north as the Altamaha River. The Utinahica tribe lived along the river and the Spanish mission of Santa Isabel de Utinahica was established around 1610 near the source of the Altamaha. Along the coast of Spanish Florida the Altamaha River marked the boundary between the Guale and Mocama missionary provinces.

In the later 17th century a group of Yamasee Indians under Chief Altamaha took up residence near the mouth of the Altamaha.

The Altamaha River marked the western border of the Colony of Georgia until the American Revolution and therefore the western border of the English settlement in North America. It also marked the boundary between the Spanish missionary provinces of Guale and Mocama. The name comes from a Yamasee chief named Altamaha.


In 1770, Oliver Goldsmith referred to the river in The Deserted Village (ll. 343 - 358):

"Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go,
Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.
Far different there from all that charm'd before,
The various terrors of that horrid shore;
Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray,
And fiercely shed intolerable day;
Those matted woods where birds forget to sing,
But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling;
Those poisonous fields, with rank luxuriance crown'd,
Where the dark scorpion gathers death around;
Where at each step the stranger fears to wake
The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake;
Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey,
And savage men more murderous still than they:
While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies,
Mingling the ravag'd landscape with the skies."



posted on May, 31 2010 @ 09:50 AM
I grew up not knowing my dad, and to be honest.. never really caring.

I grew up on this river, and I'm grateful to still call it home. My grandfather- whom I am named after, and who will remain nameless- grew up on this river. My family history here is deep like the water.

When I was still a baby, my mother and grandfather would bring me down for the afternoon. I like to think that is where we made our connection. Not me and my family, but me and her. My friend, my dedication and my connection to what people call a higher power, or God.

I have spent more hours on the Altamaha river banks than anywhere else in the world. I could only hope to die and rest one day in her arms. My wife sometimes gets jealous when we spend too much time together, she respects the connection, but not growing up here she can never fully understand.

The striped bass are my favorite fish to fight with, and have been for as long as I can remember. I use to ask my grandfather if I was 'getting a nibble', he would look at the end of my pole and say.. "no, not yet". I remember playing this back and forth game when I was young.. him glancing up, not expecting to see anything out of the ordinary. You should have seen his face as he said, "what the hell are you waiting for, real it in..". It was about an 8 pound striped bass that gave me the fight of my life.

I remember a moccasin falling in the boat with us when I was a teenager, and picking up a paddle to beat it. My grandfather spoke in a firm voice and reminded me that we were in it's home. I held the snakes head down while he grabbed it and placed it back in the water.

I remember fishing with my Uncle Bill and grandfather at the forks, where the Altamaha is formed and the water runs deep. I let go of my line too soon and it ended up about 20 feet in a tree. All my uncle could say was.. "damn we are in trouble if the water ever gets that high.."..

I remember the first year at my current job, rounding a bin and seeing a gator on a sandbar. It was wounded. I approached the far end with caution. As I got closer, he moved a little.. enough so I could see the bullet hole from a 22cal. rifle just under his right eye above the nose cavity. He slid into the water into a slew. Later that afternoon I would be back, having to end his life for him. I cried all the way back to the landing, just me and him. Some asshole must have thought it would be fun to shoot him. Either he didn't know, or didn't care that the animal would suffer so much before I was able to put him to rest.

I am not a conservationist because I hate humans, I am a conservationist because I love animals.. because I love nature. What she gives to me I could never return, and she will never ask for.

[edit on 31-5-2010 by broahes]

posted on May, 31 2010 @ 09:56 AM
There's something about flowing water that makes me feel better. I've no idea why, but rivers just feel right. Nice thread.

posted on May, 31 2010 @ 10:04 AM
Awesome thread!
I love the pictures, they`re beautiful!

There are so many wonders that make a childhood full of lovely memories!

posted on May, 31 2010 @ 10:24 AM
Thanks to both of you for your replies.

I want to put this in the collaborative writing area when I can, and use it as a place to reflect.

You can scroll up to where I edited it earlier for a little more of my personal feelings about the River, as I have finished editing those thoughts for now.

Again, glad you enjoyed.


posted on May, 31 2010 @ 10:26 AM
As much as I love rivers I love swamps even more. It looks as though you have both. Nice pics too.
The most recent trend that scares me about water quality (and I don;t think anyone has studied this yet) is suburban use of lawn services and all the fertilizers and herbicides they spray. I doubt their personnel are well trained and A) commonly overapply chemicals, and B) spray yards regardless of the incoming weather (creating storm runoff).
One good sign I've seen is I believe less people nowadays randomly throw trash away on the roadsides or illegal dump sites. We ARE growing as a species but teaching appreciation for nature requires a great deal of patience on the part of the student, not something everyone is endowed with particularly in this day and age of instant gratification.
Thanks for sharing with us about this important river system. This wouldn't be the one where hundreds of slaves drowned trying to follow Sherman's army was it?
Just curious, as ever

posted on May, 31 2010 @ 10:29 AM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

That was the Ogeechee River, just outside of Savannah.

It's good to be curious, that's how we learn.

posted on May, 31 2010 @ 10:58 AM
reply to post by broahes

hey man cool pictures. i grew up in colorodo and i enjoy fishing and hunting too. i never take any pictures, but i should. good work.

posted on May, 31 2010 @ 11:02 AM
reply to post by no1special12

I didn't take all of these pictures, but I wish I knew who took some of them so I could give credit. I'm glad you liked them.

Colorado is a beautiful state. I've never been so far, but it is certainly on my list.

Thanks, and again, glad you enjoyed.

posted on Jun, 1 2010 @ 08:24 PM
reply to post by broahes

There is nothing much i can add to this that will do it any justice... Beautifully written, wonderful photos, and your story has touched my heart.

This may sound a bit cheesy and soft (sorry) but i thank God for people like you... its the reason i don’t give up on humanity

I found your relationship with your grandfather especially heart warming... i had a similar relationship with mine (although sadly he died when i was much younger)

Like you, i also have a deep respect of nature... sadly i am not blessed with the beautiful home that you have... however, it is my hope that i can one day save enough money to move my family out to the countryside and live as close to self sufficient as possible.

Keep up the good work my friend... S+F from me

posted on Jun, 2 2010 @ 12:15 AM
reply to post by Muckster

I've met some great people on ATS Muckster, and you my friend are one of them. Thanks for taking the time out to read about a place that you will more than likely never see, and a place that may never affect you personally. It's nice to be able to share a little of ourselves. I'm glad you got to know a little more about me.

I hope one day you are able to do what you want, and move your family out to the countryside. There is a lot of peace in nature. Silence is sometimes a comforting friend, at least for me.

I've had a good life to this point, and God willing, I will continue to do just what I'm doing, right where I'm doing it.

Thank you for your respect and love for nature. Maybe if enough of us do enough of these nature threads on ATS.. one day there might be more of us..

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 01:29 AM
I spent most of the afternoon and about an hour into the night out on the water; thought a lot about the experiences that had led me to where I was and just enjoyed being alone with myself. I take a lot for granted daily and I'm glad that I'm aware of that.

The waters are leveling out after some of last month's rain that brought most of my area to flood stages. Some of my favorite sandbars are starting to show again and I'm looking forward to next month's getaway with some co-workers where we will be canoeing down to the coast from the Altamaha's head. I've done this at least twice a year for 14 of my 26 years, yet I am always amazed at what I find new. It's almost like the river has changed it's route every year and I am exploring a whole new area. I'm sure this trip will not be any different.

We are as blessed as we realize.

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 07:01 AM
very beautiful let's hope an evil oil corporation doesn't start drilling in it!

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