The Savannah River Valley
The Savannah River Valley holds a unique history that is absolutely fascinating to scholars of any time period. Many centuries ago, Native Americans worshiped the hallowed grounds that provided them with everything necessary for survival. As with any river, the banks were home to many species of plants and wildlife that flourished in their natural habitat. European colonization forced the Indigenous people off their homeland, and when South Carolina was charted in the seventeenth century, the Savannah River was designated as the natural dividing between South Carolina and Georgia. North of Augusta, the moderately warm climate and rich soil on both sides of the river was perfect for the cultivation of cash crops like cotton, tobacco, grain, and indigo. Before the days of railroads and interstate highways, the crops were grown on the land and then shipped on the river downstream to the Savannah Harbor. Between 1876 and 1877, some twelve-thousand bales of cotton traveled along the river to Savannah.[i] Because of its massive economic advantage, the American government has always been interested in improving the area for efficiency. Throughout the 1800’s, studies were conducted and projects were implemented that sought to improve navigational conditions along the waterway. Yet, one overarching problem continued to plague the region: flooding.
[i] Barber, Henry E., and Allen R. Gann. A History of the Savannah District 1829-1989. Savannah, GA: Savannah District United States Army Corps of Engineers, 1989. Page 121.