Taking in some more history!

Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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heritage rv park

Flag of United States  , Georgia
Monday, May 7, 2012

I had planned our week long stop here in Augusta so that Ken could experience a trip to "Golf Mecca".  This is,after all, home to the Masters.  The course that this tournament is played on is not open to the public. Trying to even catch a glimpse of it is impossible.  To say it is super elite and 'top' secret would be an understatement!  

Ken was able to play a few other courses during our time here and enjoyed them. In fact, he witnessed his first hole-in-one, when one of his fellow players, aged 75 by the way, hit one in on a par 3.  That alone will make Ken's Augusta experience memorable! 

Besides being home to the Masters I really had no idea what else Augusta had to offer.  I was confident that I could find things to do though and Augusta didn't let us down. 

We started with a visit to the Augusta Museum of History.  Would it surprise any of you to learn that General Oglethorpe was also responsible for the creation of Augusta?  That's right.  After laying out Savannah in 1733, General Oglethrope sent out his surveyor, Noble Jones, to lay out a second city in the colony of Georgia.  They chose the location for it's 'strategic location to all of Indian country'.  Augusta was named in honor of Princess Augusta, the new wife to the Prince of Wales. 

By the 1840's Augusta's economy had taken a turn for the worse and it's population was declining.  A local citizen, Henry Cumming, believed that a canal could be dug parallel to the Savannah River.  Mr. Cumming worked tirelessly trying to convince the citizens of Augusta that this canal could be the cities savior.  By 1845 construction had began and the canal was completed by 1847.  

The canal connects two points of the Savannah River and was devised to harness the power of the fall line of the river.  This drop in elevation allowed for power to be generated to run mills as well as providing for transportation of goods.  It also provided a source of drinking water for the city. It is the only canal in the world still used for its original purpose of providing power to textile mills.

By the time of the Civil War,  Augusta was one of the few manufacturing centers in the South.   Early on in the Civil War it was discovered that the Confederacy had only enough gun powder for about 30 days of fighting.  Col. George W. Rains was sent  to scout a location for the consturction of a powder works. Because of the canals power generating capacity, along with its ability to transport the completed product, Augusta was chosen. A total of twenty-eight buildings, which were the only ones constructed by the Confederate Government, would eventually  stretch for two miles along the Augusta Canal. Other war industries started to establish along the canal making Augusta an important center for war material. 

General Sherman bypassed Augusta on his march through the South. Local legend holds that this was because of young lady that he had once danced with when he was stationed at the local Armory..  Whatever the case,  Augusta ended the war in better condition than it started. The population had doubled and hard currency was available to fiance recovery. The canal was enlarged in 1875 and a  boom era saw the construction of the Enterprise Mill, King Mill, and Sibley MIll, the Lombard Ironworks and many others.

By the mid-20th century, the canal came into a period of neglect. The textile factories began to close and the city's industrial activity began to shift south of the city. At one point in the 1960s, city officials considered draining the canal to build a superhighway.

The canal was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.  Today it continues to be Augusta's main drinking water source.  The abandoned Enterprise Mill now houses the Augusta Canal Interperative Center.  Boat tours are offered by this center several times a day. 

The canal really is a fascinating bit of history.  The building of the Confederate Powderworks is also a very interesting bit of our countrys history.  Today, all that remains of these works is the large chimney.  Most of the buildings were demolished and the bricks were used to build the textile mills that now lie, mostly abandonded, along the canal. 

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