The Okefenokee: an Uninhabited Wilderness

Large American Alligator laying in the swamp surrounded by bonnet lily pads. Billy’s Lake, Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 4, 2017. ©

In the early years of our nation, the Okefenokee Swamp was thought to be an uninhabitable wilderness never to be settled, or even explored, because of its many dangers. While the bear, panther and wolf had been extirpated from the “civilized places”, they were thought to remain within the dark interior of the Okefenokee. The giant crocodilian, the American Alligator, still patrolled the waters while venomous snakes hid among the cypress stumps. The image of horror was further bolstered by stories of outlaw fugitives, scalp-hunting Seminoles, and spooks and haunts.

Times have changed and science has dispelled fiction. But the mystery and trepidation still remains. With the exodus of the Swampers, the Okefenokee now remains uninhabited. The Swamp is still the abode of snakes, bobcat, bird and bear. And the formidable crocodilian, the American Alligator, still patrols the waters in great abundance. And but for the adventurous kayakers that cross the refuge’s maintained canoe trails, the Okefenokee is the refuge of beast and bird alone.

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