Category Archives: History

Withlacoochee River bridges, Brooks and Lowndes Counties, 1906 and 1917

Knight Bridge and Rocky Ford Bridge appear in some century-old maps in Georgia Archives.

[Knight Bridge 1917 and remaining posts 2022]
Knight Bridge 1917 and remaining posts 2022

At the top left you can see a road going to the site of Spain Ferry.

Another road reaches the river downstream from there. Current aerial maps show that road is still there in the woods, although the path of the river seems to have shifted west somewhat at that point.

Then there’s Knight Bridge, near where Knights Ferry Boat Ramp is now.

Notice that the old road to Knight Bridge jags south before it gets to the river.

In this current map you can see that old road still there in the woods. Continue reading

HPS II withdraws phosphate mining application from Bradford County, Florida 2023-01-19

After many years of massive opposition, HPS II Thursday withdrew its application for a phosphate mine “without the County taking any formal action on it.”

[Letter, Map]
Letter, Map

Union County, where HPS II also wanted to mine, rejected its application there, changed the Union County Comprehensive Plan to limit mining, and, with the assistance of Alachua County, maintained legal defense against the mine, until HPS II dropped its lawsuit last June.

So it seems safe to finally say the HPS II phosphate mine is dead.

Congratulations to all the opponents, especially Bradford Environmental Forum, Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, Sierra Club, and Our Santa Fe River (OSFR).

Suwannee Riverkeeper has opposed this mine since 2017, because it drains ito the New River and the Santa Fe River in the Suwannee River Basin, above the Floridan Aquifer. Update 2023-01-24: Added detail. Our opposition has included attending demonstrations, speaking at County Commission meetings in Union and Bradford Counties, writing letters to those Commissions, organizing Southwings small plane overflights of the mine site with opposition members from Union County and OSFR, publishing photographs from such overflights, attending coordination meetings as far away as Tampa, and attending nationwide meetings against phosphate mining. See https://wwals.net/issues/phosphate-mining/. In December 2018, the first official action of the newly-formed Waterkeepers Florida was a a Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida.

HPS II withdrawing their rezoning application does raise questions about where phosphate miners will aim next. Continue reading

Lowndes County buys Troupville land for Nature Park and River Camp 2022-12-30

Suwannee Riverkeeper features in the image the Valdosta Daily Times used with the story.

County acquires Troupeville[sic] land for nature reserve, By Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, Dec 30, 2022,

VALDOSTA — Lowndes County is doing its part to preserve nature with the purchase of 71.47 acres of land between the Little River Confluence and the Withlacoochee River.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper banner at a Troupville cleanup. Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter is second from right, back row. WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman is by the left end of the banner.]
Suwannee Riverkeeper banner at a Troupville cleanup.
Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter is second from right, back row.
WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman is by the left end of the banner.

The county purchased the land from Between the Rivers LLC. for $121,500 with the intention of setting it aside as a nature preserve. The Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority owns the land between that property and Highway 133.

In her letter to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Board of Trustees, sixth generation owner and property seller Helen Tapp spoke of Continue reading

New York landfill court case illustrates right to clean water 2022-12-30

A lawsuit using New York State’s recent Environmental Rights Amendment illustrates what a Right to Clean Water constitutional amendment could do for Florida or Georgia.

Here’s what’s going on in Perinton, NY. Then Joseph Bonasia of Florida Rights of Nature Network provides examples of how Florida’s pending Right to Clean and Healthy Waters (RTCW) could be used to solve similar cases.

In Georgia, an RTCW amendment could perhaps be used to get cities to stop trash from polluting waterways, for example maybe to get Valdosta to enforce its ordinances against landowners letting trash off their property and requiring so many trash cans per number of parking places. That would keep much trash out of creeks such as Hightower Creek, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River, protecting neighborhood children, wildlife, and the river all the way to Florida.

[High Acres Landfill, Rochester, NY. Photo: Max Schulte]
High Acres Landfill, looms over a neighborhood in Perinton, near Rochester, NY. Residents claim the dump violates their state constitutional right to “clean air, clean air, and a healthful environment.”, Photo: Max Schulte

Gino Fanelli, Rochester City Newspaper, March 28, 2022, Neighbors say Perinton landfill violates their constitutional right to ‘clean air’,

The sour scent of rot hung over Perinton Parkway one early spring day.

Continue reading

Budget and Bats: Suwannee River Visitor Center

Regarding when and why the Suwannee River Visitor Center closed, I went to an authoritative source, Bryan Gray, Manager, Stephen Foster State Park (SFSP).

[Ramp (south) end, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:25:45, 30.6823112, -82.5600485]
Ramp (south) end, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:25:45, https://www.google.com/maps/@30.6823112,-82.5600485,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

He says it started with budgeting after the recession. Georgia State Parks had to operate more like businesses.

He started at SFSP in 2011, and the Visitor Center closed not long after that.

They tried to operate it in different capacities, such as Continue reading

Suwannee River Visitor Center 2022-12-29

Update 2023-01-02: Budget and Bats: Suwannee River Visitor Center.

Somebody asked, what is that big building next to the Suwannee River at Fargo, and why is it closed?

[Front, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:22:40, 30.6822910, -82.5606494]
Front, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:22:40, 30.6822910,-82.5606494

The Suwannee River Visitor Center opened in 2004, before the nearby Eco-Lodge. Both are part of Stephen C. Foster State Park.

It was a showcase for the wildlife, composition, and history of the Suwannee River, as well as an example green building. But it has been closed since at February 2015 or earlier. Here is what I could find about it.

Ashley Harper, WALB TV, June 15, 2004, Tourist attraction brings life to Fargo, Continue reading

Videos: Troupville Nature Park and River Camp, Trash, Cleanups –Helen Tapp & Suwannee Riverkeeper @ Scott James Radio 2022-12-15

Helen Tapp was still around after Lowndes County bought land from her for a nature preserve, so I asked Scott James to get her on his radio show, in which we talked nature preserve and trash.

[Movie: Thanks --Scott James, Helen Tapp]
Movie: Thanks –Scott James, Helen Tapp

We learned a few new things: the Valdosta YMCA is working on providing Withlacoochee River access just downstream from the railroad bridge and Sugar Creek, with no boardwalk required.

And the Mayor predicts that Valdosta United Way and the City Council will each provide $2,000 towards two additional WaterGoat trash traps.

Helen Tapp discussed that recent purchase to make a nature preserve at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River. She and Suwaneee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and Valdosta Mayor Scott James talked about eight miles of river right next to Valdosta, with chainsaw cleanups to make it more accessible down to Troupville River Camp, where the Chairman and Mayor’s Paddle will depart March 4, 2023.

These WWALS videos include the rest of the interview, after a cable provider knocked Talk 92.1 FM off the air for the morning. Including Continue reading

Videos: Lowndes County buys land from Helen Tapp for Troupville Nature Park and River Camp 2022-12-13

Update 2022-12-23: Videos: Troupville Nature Park and River Camp, Trash, Cleanups –Helen Tapp & Suwannee Riverkeeper @ Scott James Radio 2022-12-15.

Landowner Helen Tapp spoke a week ago at the Lowndes County Commission about their historic purchase of her 71+ acres to add to 49 VLPRA acres to make a Troupville Nature Park and River Camp.

Below are videos and transcript of what she said about her vision and hopes for the site. For the entire meeting, see the Continue reading

Steep Hill Branch, Little River, Miller Bridge Road, Lowndes County, GA 1914-06-08

Phillip Williams found this 1914 plat map showing Steep Hill Branch.

[Plat and maps: Steep Hill Branch]
Plat and maps: Steep Hill Branch

USGS did not know a name for it, but now its Steep Hill Branch in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT). Phillip says it’s been known by that name since at least the 1860s.

Evidently either the Little River was much straighter there back then, or they just didn’t bother to try to draw it more accurately. Nonetheless, it is clear this is the right place by the land lot and land district numbers, and the old property owner names. Continue reading

Alligator, Church, Peoples Bridge, Suwannee River –Ken Sulak 1880-07-13

Ken Sulak has more about Peoples Bridge on the Suwannee River, including the church the bridge was built for, and when an alligator ate a man in 1880.

Apparently this was a little-known peril of deer hunting. Of course, alligator attacks on humans are very rare: that’s why this one was news.

[Alligator story, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Peoples Bridge]
Alligator story, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Peoples Bridge

I have contacted the Oak Grove Baptist Church, still in existence continuously from the 1870s. The contact person knew nothing about the long gone People’s Bridge 1.2 mi due West from the church. She referred my inquiry to the pastor, unfortunately very new and from up north. So, he knows nothing about the old history. I was hoping the church maintained an archive, or a birth-death-burial log, or an annotated master bible. No luck on that so far.

Continue reading