Ahead was a Dark Dense Swamp

Excerpt from the 1875 Okefenokee Exploration by The Atlanta Constitution:

Cypress knees covered in green moss in the dark Okefenokee Swamp. Taxodium distichum and Taxodium ascendens have knees from the roots for stability in wetland habitats. Photographed October 23, 2020 on the Middle Fork Suwannee River red canoe trail in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia USA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

September 19, 1875. — “Ahead of us was a dark and dense swamp stretching for miles away, and the man who has never ventured upon such an undertaking as was ahead of us knows little of the feeling that stole over me at this moment. The novelty of talking about, and “writing up,” the Okefinokee vanished like pleasant dreams to a waking mortal. We were standing upon the margin of the great southern dismal, and various were the thoughts that flashed through my mind as we paused. But the flat gave forth and there was no turning back now. Floyd’s Island – the heart of the Okefinokee – must be reached by our reporter, and I was determined to be the man.

“The first three hundred yards was through a dense undergrowth of tyty, sugar bush and a species of non-bearing huckleberry, while over head, towering into the skies, were several varieties of the gum, bay and yellow pine, of very large growth. The ground was partially covered with green pond moss and was inclined to be boggy. This growth generally belts the outer edge of the swamp. Just across the creek, the character of the swamp changed. Cypress and pine gave place to gum, while the undergrowth seemed to have been killed either by fire or by a flood of water, a few years ago, and the dead bushes were lapped across our way to such an extent that we frequently had to cut our way through. In these bunches of dead bushes and on the dry tussocks along side of our way we saw, to our great discomfort, numbers of moccasins, and some as large as a man’s leg. Several times during the day we failed to see these uncomfortable friends until one was walked upon, and commenced struggling to make and escape about our feet. When one was discovered so unpleasantly near, our leaping would have done credit to a professional acrobat.”

In 1875, The Atlanta Constitution published the dramatic headline: “We now announce to our readers, and the people of Georgia, that we are fitting up an expedition for a complete and thorough exploration of Okefinokee. The full details of the plan and expedition will be published soon – if they come out alive.” Over the next months, the paper released many exciting stories from the Okefenokee Swamp.

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