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Friday, September 27, 2019

Wonders of the Colonial Frontier: Congaree National Park

What did the colonial frontier look like?

Last month I quoted from the writings of John Henry Logan, describing what the South Carolina backcountry looked like when European settlers first arrived. Just a few weeks later, my son and daughter-in-law (then expecting baby #3 any day!) granted me a walk through Congaree National Park near Columbia, SC, as a Sunday-after-church attempt to "walk the baby out." (It didn't work. Baby girl delayed her appearance for 5 more days, but then arrived in one of THE sweetest births I've ever had the privilege to witness!)

Ahem. Excuse my Grammie sidetrack. I did spend most of the walk geeking out over what is billed as South Carolina's last remaining old-growth forest.

I took a ton of photos, but it was nearly impossible to capture just how tall and massive some of these trees are ...

The forest is comprised of beech, cypress, tupelo, oak, loblolly pine (where the famed "heart pine" came from), and so many others. The tupelos were noteworthy because the moss growing thickly on the lower trunks marks where the high-water line is during seasonal floods.

Also, remember my reference last month to canebrakes, and how the plant was a type of bamboo? WRONG. It's related to sugarcane ... bamboo is actually an invasive species not native to the American southeast. Can you imagine these, growing 20-30 feet high, as Logan described?

... wetlands, full of cypress and tupelo ...

... a very short video clip with my daughter Corrie reading about the largest loblolly pine ...

... the palmetto, for which South Carolina is named ...

... remember Logan's description of peavines, as high as a horse's withers? I spied ONE. A small one. But I was delighted to recognize it!

What's a visit to the forest without creepy-crawlies? I'd never seen a millipede this huge ...

And we were excited to see this luna moth ....

 Look close at the ruggedness of that forest floor--those are cypress knees, everywhere! Can you imagine walking or riding a horse through this? Definitely not terribly passable by wagon ...

And last but maybe not least, a quick clip of me surveying my surroundings. (Sound up ... )


  1. Very interesting! I've often tried to imagine what places looked like during the Colonial period or even not that far back--the overgrowth, prairie grasses, pine forests, you name it. And I, too, think of the settlers and the challenges they faced taming such country. BTW, the first video didn't work for me. But otherwise, excellent!

    1. Thank you, Naomi! I was a little concerned that video would be too "heavy" to load for some. :-)


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