Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Our second and last day in the Augusta area, we first headed to the J. Strom Thurmond Dam visitor center. This dam is one of a series along the Savannah River to control flooding and provide electrical power for the area. Together this flood control system also provides over 120 miles of lakes for recreational use.
Next we visited the downtown and made a short stroll along the river walk. This area was just a few decades ago the roughest district in the city. Now it is lined with upscale hotels . Augusta is also part of the earliest European history in the new world. In 1539, Hernando De Soto landed in Florida and during his four year exploration of what are now nine states, passed along this river walk. His exploration was the beginning of a changed world for the Native Americans. In addition to losses in battles and being taken as slaves, many more died from European diseases. This was the first step in the lost of their control of the land.
We also visited the Augusta Canal historic site, which was important for many years as a way to bypass the rapids in the Savannah River for commerce between this city and the Atlantic Coast. The original lock keeper’s house is used as the visitor center. In addition to the preserved locks and some structures, there is a 7.5 mile tow path available for hikes along the canal and river. It is a wonderful place for a short visit to hours of hiking and enjoying the scenery. For those who have the time there are a number of water activities, as well.
Tomorrow, we are again underway, heading to the Georgia Atlantic coast for a week or so before heading further south.