ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Okefenokee Swamp, GA & FL
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Okefenokee Swamp, GA & FL
Okefenokee Swamp
One of the seven natural wonders of Georgia,
the legendary Okefenokee Swamp is one of the
five largest swamps in the world.
Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia
The great swamp can be
accessed from points near
the communities of Fargo,
Waycross and Folkston.
Okefenokee Swamp - Georgia & Florida
The Land of the Trembling Earth
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 23, 2012
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Deep in the Okefenokee
The massive swamp is larger
than the entire state of Rhode
Island. It covers more than
438,000 acres and is one of
the Seven Natural Wonders of
The Top of the Food Chain
An American alligator lazily
cruises along the Suwannee
River Sill. Tens of thousands
of alligators live in the swamp.
Stephen C. Foster State Park
The beautiful state park near
Fargo offers camping, boat
rentals, guided boat tours,
picnic areas and cabins. It is
one of five entrances to the
Okefenokee Swamp.
The Okefenokee Swamp covers 438,000
acres and is one of the five largest swamps
in the world. The source of Florida's famed
Suwannee River, it is one of the Seven
Natural Wonders of Georgia.

Legend holds that the name Okefenokee is
an old Creek Indian word meaning "Land of
the Trembling Earth." The story makes sense
as the bottom of the swamp is formed by a
thick layer of accumulated peat. Trees can be
made to shake by jumping up and down.

A chief of the Lower Creek village of Chehaw
told U.S. Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins in
1796 that the swamp was a terrible place.
Even the bravest of warriors, he said, feared
going too deep into the swamp. It was filled
with snakes, alligators and "tygers" or
panthers. It would later become a refuge for

During the Creek War of 1836 and Second
Seminole War (1835-1842), Seminole and
Creek warriors fled into the Okefenokee with
their families to escape forced removal from
their homelands on the Trail of Tears. Army
and militia troops built forts around the
perimeter of the swamp and occasionally
skirmished with bands of warriors.

The pressure eventually forced most of the
Native Americans to flee south into Florida,
although some local families found in the
area today report they descended from these

Men who deserted from the Confederate
army or chose not to fight at all used the
Okefenokee Swamp as a hiding place during
the Civil War. Although occasional scouting
missions were sent into the swamp to look
for them, for the most part it wasn't worth the
effort. The Okefenokee was too mysterious,
too big and too dangerous.

In 1891, the investors of the Suwannee
Canal Company thought they saw a chance
to profit by draining the swamp. After buying
238,120 acres of the Okefenokee from the
State of Georgia, began digging a canal to
drain water from the swamp so it could be
turned into plantations for rice, sugar cane
and cotton.

The venture didn't go as hoped, so the canal
company turned its attention to logging. The
Suwannee Canal eventually reached a length
of 11.5 miles before the digging stopped. It is
now one of the primary entrances to the
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The Suwannee Canal Company failed and
its assets were purchased in 1901 by
Charles Hebard. He successfully extended
logging railroads into the Okefenokee and
between 1908 and 1927 more than 431
million board feet of lumber was harvested
from the swamp. The stumps of massive old
growth cypress trees and the beds of the
railroads still dot the Okefenokee today.

The era of the Great Depression brought a
new vision for the Okefenokee Swamp, one
of preservation and protection. In 1936 the
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was
established. It now encompasses 402,000
acres of the 438,000 acre swamp.

Of the total lands in the refuge, 353,981
acres are considered so precious they have
been designated a national wilderness area.
Natural Places in Georgia
The Okefenokee Swamp can be explored in
many different ways. There are scenic drives,
boat tours, hiking trails, canoe and kayak
trails, interpretive centers, guided walks and
more. The various parks and recreation
areas feature amenities ranging from boat,
canoe and kayak rentals to camping, cabins
and picnicking:

Stephen C. Foster State Park
This state park is the west entrance to the
swamp and features boat tours, camping,
hiking, camping and boat, canoe and kayak
rentals. It is located 18 miles from Fargo.
Please click here to learn more.

Suwannee River Sill Recreation Area
Located near Stephen C. Foster State Park at
the west entrance to the swamp, the Sill is a
five mile long earthen dam built in 1960 to
hold water in the swamp during droughts. It
provides access to a dayuse recreation area
that features hiking trails, a canoe launch
and beautiful views of the Okefenokee.
here to learn more.

Suwannee Canal Recreation Area
The east entrance to the swamp, this area
includes the historic Suwannee Canal and
the main Fish & Wildlife Service Visitor
Center. Features activities include a driving
trail, hiking trails, boardwalks, boat tours,
food, picnicking and boat, canoe and kayak
rentals. It is located 11 miles from Folkston.
Please click here to learn more.

Okefenokee Swamp Park
Located on U.S. 1 near Waycross, this
popular attraction is the north entrance to the
swamp. It features boat tours, live wildlife
shows, an observation tower, historic sites,
canoe rentals and gardens.
Please click
here to learn more.

A wealth of other information about the
Okefenokee Swamp, its wildlife, history and
things to do, is available on the official