U. S. One, Maine to Florida

By Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration | Go to book overview

GEORGIA

S.C. Line -- Augusta -- Waycross -- Fla. Line, 222.5 m. US 1.

Paved surface throughout. Cattle and pigs a hazard. Hotel and tourist accommodations vary from poor to excellent.


Section 21. South Carolina Line to Florida Line, 222.5 m.

In its 222.5-mile course in Georgia, US 1 S. of Augusta passes through only one town, Waycross, with a population exceeding 2,500. The highway traverses a rural section that is the locale of two outstanding works of modern fiction: Erskine Caldwell's novel, Tobacco Road, from which the record-breaking play was adapted; and Caroline Miller's Pulitzer Prize novel of 1933, Lamb in His Bosom.In the extreme southern part of the State, US 1 skirts the Okefenokee Swamp, a favorite laboratory for naturalists.

Between Augusta and Louisville the highway follows an old Uchee Indian trail, which later became a stagecoach route. Before the Civil War this region was a part of the old plantation belt, slave labor being abundant to cultivate the large farms. Charm and mellowed grace linger about the old homes, some of which date back almost to the Revolution, but more in evidence is the unpainted shack of the sharecropper, with sagging porch and paneless windows.

Winding through the low red clay hills, US 1 bisects fields of white cotton, which grows to a height of about 3 ft. In late August and September, groups of barefoot Negroes, with red bandannas or wide straw hats on their heads and burlap sacks slung from their shoulders, bend low over the stalks and pick the soft staple from the boll. When the sacks have been filled, the contents are dumped on large sheets at the end of the rows.

Between the fields of cotton, grain, sugar cane, and peanuts are farmhouses, some of them shakily balanced on rock supports. Here and there are wells with windlasses and oaken buckets, rusty plantation dinner bells on tall poles, and bee-martin gourds swinging from crosspieces on tall posts. These gourds furnish a nesting place for the small martins that keep the hawks away from the chickens. Frequently the porches are boarded up to hold the loose cotton that is piled there until enough for a bale has been picked. Instead of planting grass on their lawns, the housewives sweep the yards clean with a bundle of small branches; but even the shabbiest house is brightened

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