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December 03, 2013


I'll have to get you a picture of my grandmother's Crape Myrtle, located in Gloucester County, NJ. She told me someone from Longwood Gardens once came to speak to her about it because it was an unusually large specimen for the area, larger than anything even they had.

Wonderful post - I <3 geography!
I haven't been to Tybee Island, but have driven through Hilton Head - its beautiful, and sure exclusive. Savannah has a great cemetery, but for the real thing you should visit Charleston, SC. The city is much more beautiful than Savannah, more European and still Southern at the same time, and they acknowledge the slavery that built the place. Gullah women selling their beautiful woven sweetgrass baskets on the street corners, the old market, Rainbow Row. The Old Church cemetery is so full of history,the old slave market is somewhat preserved, the harbor, the Battery...
Nice beaches, too, at Isle of Palms and Stewart Beach.
Plus, its where the war began.

Interesting trip. Did you come across any Sherman's neckties along the way?

When I was growing up down in the Peach State, the Fall Line was just as often called the "Gnat Line", for the millions of reasons that you'd guess from the moniker. Playing outside at my uncle's in Macon was a fair site more pleasant than doing so at my other uncle's house in Cordele.

For all Tybee Islands tourist trappings, the locals don't actually want people on their island and make it as unwelcoming as possible. As for Hilton Head while outwardly it appears to be all gated it really is very open and welcoming and they charge gate entrance fees for parking. We live on Wilmington Island, the one you cross to get to Tybee and travel to HHI to go to the beach. Finally, a much under used and friendly beach is Jekyll Island and the Golden Isles area of Georgia coast.


But *why* is Tybee tourist-unfriendly? I mean, how does that work? Who hates money that much?


Other people agree with you, that Charleston is much more honest about its slave-trading past than Savannah is. Do you have any sense of *why*?

Cotton is not raised or picked anything like how it used to be. For instance: cotton is generally killed and allowed to wither fully before it is machine-picked.

I had assumed that machine-picking cut or broke off the tops of the plants, but it's possible that the type of cotton itself has changed, causing a change in plant height.

Interesting (or trivial, if you already know) trivia:

Sago palms are not palms; they're cycads:

Often considered a living fossil, the earliest fossils of the genus Cycas appear in the Cenozoic although Cycas-like fossils that may belong to Cycadaceae extend well into the Mesozoic.

Common cycads in this part of the country include the cardboard palm (also not a palm) and the coontie (the latter two of which are more closely related), of which we have several. There is a species of butterfly that uses some of these plants for both egg-laying and food; the caterpillars of which are large (my recollection) and crimson in color. Some of the Florida natural cold springs have abundant plantings of these and at the right time of the year you really have to watch where you step.

2) Live oaks were prized for use in shipbuilding in Colonial days; the USS Constitution made extensive use of live oak wood in its frame. It's very strong, very hard and very dense. It's not an extreme in any of those areas, but it's arguably the strongest wood available in North America. Live oaks are some of the oldest, if not the oldest, surviving tree specimens in this part of the country. I lived within rock-throwing distance of a specimen that was (still is) over 450 years old. When hurricanes strike, other oak trees are broken or uprooted, while live oaks more or less survive undamaged. It's not unusual to see very large, old live oaks; there's one on Valencia Community College's East campus that rises to (guessing) 50 feet in height and three times that in width of the canopy.

Anyway. Carry on.

Doctor Science,
I am not sure why SC is more open to acknowledging the slave culture. It may be that because slaves were such a high percentage of the population that they had no choice. In 1860 44% of Georgia's population were slaves; in South Carolina that number was 60%. (figures from here, here, and here). There is still a relatively large proportion of African-Americans living in SC - 28% according to the Census Bureau. But not as large as GA's 31% (although GA's black pop grew 43% in the last 20 years). So I really don't know. Maybe it has to do with the different background and settlers of the 2 cities. The Low Country is a strange place.
I haven't spent more than a few months there over the past several years - my son-in-law is stationed at the NNPTC in Goose Creek. I just know I love being there (although part of that could be because of the grandkids).

Also, cotton used to be picked by hand every week or so as it grew and bloomed over the course of a season, hence the phrase "easy pickin'" and "he's in tall cotton,"toward the end of the season when it was tall and not so back-breaking to pick. Now it grows to a certain height and all blooms at once, so machines can strip it.

Putting aside the native population, until the early 1800's, Africans were the largest population in North America. Whether North or South, 17th and 18th century buildings and infrastructure was built in part, if not in whole, by African hands.

I live in Atlanta and have the good fortune to have a friend with a house on Tybee, so for the last 7 years I've gotten to go once or twice a year. What follows is random information.

The burned patches of trees were probably mostly part of the path where a wide and powerful tornado passed a couple years ago. It is an odd and random patch of desolation.

As for the absence of Gullah, I would speculate that the combination of Tybee's small size and it's location near Savannah and resulting military uses are among the causes. Gullah communities are generally more remote, allowing for cultural isolation and continuity.

If you didn't go and you make it back for another visit, the Tybee History Center/Museum next to the lighthouse is worth checking out, as well as the lighthouse and grounds area. Ft. Pulaski is also interesting, particularly for anyone into military history.

To a fair extent Tybee is Savanah's beach (and for a time was actually named Savannah Beach), so a significant fraction of the visitors are semi-locals or regulars, which makes it less "touristy" than some beach towns. For example my friend rents her house out from April up to Labor Day, with the off-season reserved for her and her family's use, maintenance and upkeep, etc., so she might be down there a half dozen times a year (or more). Aside from Hilton Head, the other place that well-heeled Atlantans are likely to go or own time-shares and the like is St. Simon's Island, further south on the coast.

Hope you made it to the Breakfast Club and Doc's Bar (home of Sammy the black bar cat) during your stay.

Why would you take rte 206? Wouldn't the Parkway be faster?

..., but it's possible that the type of cotton itself has changed, causing a change in plant height.

Cotton plants may have been breed to reduce height, but growers also use chemical treatments, plant growth regulators, to more or less freeze plant growth.

Where did you get the info on African population? The highest % I can find says 19.3% in 1790, and it decreases percentage-wise from there. By region, its 3% in the NE, and 35% in the South, in 1790.

In the colonies, the African population may have peaked at about one-third of the total population in the mid 1700's. In North America, including Mexico, they outnumbered Europeans quite a bit for some period of time. In the Americas, as a whole, Africans greatly outnumbered Europeans for a long period of time.

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