Brunswick Canal
by Amy Hedrick

Here in a the little town of Brunswick, Georgia, is a canal that runs from the north of the county, 12 miles along into the town of Brunswick. The ideal of the said canal was to connect the Altamaha River with the city via Turtle River, to make trade to the outer-lying plantations more accommodating, and for river traffic to come into Brunswick. The project was started in 1826 with the incorporation of the Brunswick & Canal Railroad Company. However many of the members sold their stocks to one man, W.B. Davis, who tried in vain to keep the project afloat.

In 1834, the project was renewed, with state aid and backing from Boston capitalists promised. The canal was to be 12 feet wide at the surface, 35ft. at the bottom, and a 6 foot depth of water. Advertisements were posted in the local papers around 1838 requesting "1,000 able bodied negroes" to help dig the canal. The rate of pay was to be $15 per month for men and $13 per month for women. Lodgings, medical treatment, and food were to be supplied to the negroes by the company.

The project was doomed from the start. With it's inception, the stock holders bailed out, now, the negroes, who were not used to such labors, could not keep up with the work. Only about 200 were kept on the job detail, and a white labor force, consisting of Irishmen from County Cork and County Kerry, Ireland, were hired. These gentlemen were hard workers, and finished the job, but halfway through, a battle erupted between the two Irish county men that was only settled after the local militia was called in!

The canal was never opened though. Around the 1850s interest was piqued again, but came to nothing. The canal still exists today, starting at what is known now as the Morning Star property, and running north to the Turtle River alongside the Texaco Gas Station on Hwy. 341. The sugar mill at Elizafield Plantation is situate right next to the canal's mouth, and due to this fated canal, Mr. Grant was put out of the sugar business. 

Unfortunately, this land is going to be raped by putting in a theme park, "Steamboat City."  The misguided owners suggest that this park is taking it's theme from the fact that steamboats plied the canal, when the biggest ship to ply the canal was probably only a canoe, as "river traffic" never sailed through.  Not only is this theme park a farce, but it will be detrimental to the historical landmarks still standing in the area, i.e. the sugar mill at Elizafield and the slave cemeteries.  All for the sake of a dollar.  Hopefully the residents of this neighborhood will make a stand, and put a stop to such nonsense.

 

 

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