Imagine the Pristine Beauty of the Okefenokee

Stumps of Cypress trees remain throughout the Okefenokee Swamp from extensive logging operations of the Hebard Logging Company in the 1920s. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Paddling north on the Suwannee River Middle Fork red trail between mile markers 22 and 23. March 4, 2021. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

As beautiful as the Okefenokee Swamp is today, I can only imagine the grandeur of the pristine beauty prior to the logging of the early 1900’s. It has been nearly 100 years since the logging took place, but the scars of wide scale timber removal remain to this day. Many of the cypress have been growing back since the saws were silenced, but I do not think we see what the early explorers and swampers saw in the 1800’s.

In his book Mammals of the Okefinokee Swamp published in 1927, naturalist Francis Harper wrote, “This was doubtless one of the most magnificent stands of cypress in the country, many of the trees towering to a height of about 100 feet, and having a diameter of more than a yard above the swollen base.”

If the post-exploitation Okefenokee can hold such magnificence today, one can only imagine what it would have been to step foot in the towering cypress cathedrals of yesterday. But as long as we continue to preserve this national treasure, future generations won’t have to use their imagination. Cypress grow slowly, but they do grow! One day.

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