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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Savannah's Atlantic Inland Water Route
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns about early shipping in Georgia and Bulloch County.

Michel Chevalier, in his book "Society, Manners, and Politics in the United States," (1837) wrote about the "Lines of Communications Along the Atlantic."

Chevalier stated that on "the coast of the United States from Boston to Florida ... there is almost a continuous line of inland navigation. ... In the south, by a number of long sounds, or by the narrow passes between the mainland and the chain of low islands."

"The Annual Report of the Committee on Commerce of the United States Senate" (1892) described the dedicated "Inland Water Route" which had been developed via steamboat travel between Savannah and Palatka, Florida.

It continued, "Steamers plied the entire route, making semi-weekly trips. Another line is established between Savannah and Darien, making three trips per week."

Also, steamers made "daily round trips between Brunswick and Darien ... (and) between Brunswick and Fernandina ... (and) irregular but frequent trips between the Ogeechee, Altamaha, and Satilla rivers, and the ports of Savannah, Darien, and Brunswick."

Finally, the report stated, "A large fleet of sloops and schooners, from 20 to 50 tons burden, bring oysters, fish, rice, and shells from points along the inside route to the cities."

Accompanying these, carrying local products, were "a number of barges, towed by tugboats ... used in transporting the products of the seas and the coast plantations to the city markets."

This report revealed the two main purposes of this inland route. First, "Large vessels are often towed from port to port without cargo or ballast by the inside route." In addition, "Partially loaded vessels often take the inside route to another port to complete their cargo."

"The Official Railway Guide" (1881) stated that "a new daily line between Jacksonville and Savannah will be opened for business about January 15, 1881 ... formed by the steamers (City of Bridgeton, David Clark and Florida) of the Georgia and Florida Inland Steamboat Company."

It stated, "This line would run between Savannah and Fernandina ... The new line will be known as the 'Sea Island Route.' This route promised 'no seasickness' and served St. Catherine's, Doboy, Darien, St. Simons, Brunswick, St. Mary's, and Fernandina."

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at



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