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Day 110 - Savannah By Trolley (Photo's Added)

We toured Savannah, Georgia by Trolley Tour, visited a historic church, home and pirates lair

sunny 64 °F


Miles Driven - 41 (Excluding miles ridden on trolley)
Weather - Sunny, started off cool but was mid 60's by afternoon
Camped at Rivers End Campground on Tybee Island on GA Coast


Only one day in Savannah? Sometimes this feels like the rushed tour, not the nice, leisurely, got plenty of time to sightsee tour I had expected for eight months! Oh well, one day is better than none, but it's not enough...


In order to get into Savannah, I had to drive over yet another long, high cable stayed bridge. This one is the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge and was just built in 1990. Savannah is the largest container port city on the east coast, and the old bridge was restricting access to the port for the larger ships. At 185 feet above the river surfact, most container ships can fit under this one. Fortunately, it wasn't windy when I drove across it.


After crossing the bridge, we pulled into Savannah and right into the parking lot for one of the Trolley Tour Bus companies. I bought tickets that allowed for unlimited on/off privileges this time. Since we only planned to stay one day here and didn't know much about the city, it seemed like the best way to learn as much as we could in a limited amount of time.


First we took the full loop (1 1/2 hours) so we could see as much of the city as possible. Denise, the tour guide, pointed out a lot of historic homes and locales, but I found it quite difficult to get good pictures of things from a moving trolley (like Charleston - you can see & learn a lot this way, but not necessarily get good pictures). Also, I'm not able to connect some of my pictures with my notes, so will just post them and apologize for not being able to explain what they are in all cases.

Georgia was the last of the British Colonies to be established when James Oglethorpe and 114 colonists landed in 1732. Savannah was established with the help of the local chief, Tomochichi. Savannah was a preplanned community with 24 squares, 21 of which still exist. Many of the squares have statues or monuments to various colonial or revolutionary war heros. This is one of the squares, I don't remember which one.


Here are some of the historic homes and buildings preserved in the historic district. Some have descriptions (you can click on a thumbnail to enlarge it and view the description, if any).


We also really liked the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, but unfortunately didn't have time to tour it (one day is about enough to tour one church and one historic home, do a little shopping and lunch). The building is quite beautiful however.


The small field across the street was used as a dueling field (this was a long time ago). The tour guide enjoyed pointing out how it was located next to the cemetary, very convenient.


The tour guide also pointed out this fountain in Forsyth Park and how much it looks like it might have come from Paris. Once she got us all to agree, she informed us that the city had ordered it from page 5 of a catalog from New York City.


Finally, the tour guide pointed out many of the locales where famous movies have been shot in Savannah, including the bench where Forest Gump sat while eating chocolates and the church steeple nearby from which the feather floated down. The most famous recent movie of course was "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" based on the book of the same name. I haven't seen either of these, so wasn't able to connect well with all the spots she pointed out, but did catch these two, the Baliastone Inn, where Keven Spacey stayed during filming, and the Lucas Theater, which received a nice donation from the actor to help with it's restoration.


The final stretch of the trolley tour was River Street. Most of the buildings along here were originally cotton warehouses. Charleston got rich on rice, which was also grown in Georgia - but Savannah's original fortune was based on Cotton. Thanks to the Central of Georgia Railroad, Savannah became the primary export city for cotton. The trolley ride over the cobblestone road was quite rough.


Once we'd gone through the entire tour, we decided to get off at the last stop where we could see a little bit of the city market, then tour the First African Baptist Church.


We took one of the guided tours of the First African Baptist Church. Our tour guide was Johnny, who was on break from college (and very proud that he'd passed his classes, including a particularly difficult one). The picture of the church doesn't do it justice, but of course they don't allow photography inside. The congregation was organized in 1777 by George Leile, who was born in Jamestown in 1752. This is the longest organized African Baptist Church in North America. The present building was constructed between 1855 and 1859 by slaves, who did the work themselves at night after working a full day on the plantations. They used money they had saved to buy their freedom to support the church. It is the first brick building in Georgia built by blacks and for blacks. Below the basement is a four foot crawl space that was used to hide escaping slaves before they headed north with the underground railroad. The church members drilled holes in the floor in traditional African prayer patterns for air, but because they looked like prayer patterns, no one suspected they were for hidden slaves under the floor.

After touring the Church, we decided to tour the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace. This was a very elegant home built by her father, one of the founders of the Central of Georgia Railroad. The house is owned by the Girl Scout Organization, which she founded in 1912. It is decorated as it was in 1886, just before she married. The house was very interesting and well done, the tour guide was a wealth of information about Juliette Low and the founding of the Girl Scouts, but again we couldn't take any pictures inside.


So having toured one of the churches and one of the famous Savannah homes, we decided to eat a late lunch at "The Pirates House". This was once a tavern or inn frequented by mariners, not always of the legitimate sort (or so it was rumored). There is even a tunnel that may have occasionally been used to kidnap tavern patrons that became drunk and could be impressed into naval service (a common recruitment method in the 1600's and 1700's). Robert Louis Stevenson ate here and this is thought to be the inspirition for his book, "Treasure Island". We tried the luncheon buffet, I loved the food - Mom didn't.


That pretty much killed the day - no time for the museums unfortunately (I thought I saw an Ansel Adams sign?) Oh well.

We drove out to a nice RV park on Tybee Island on the far NE corner of GA. There is a lighthouse three blocks away, so we'll check it out in the morning. We plan is to be in Atlanta by Saturday night, about 250 miles, so that should be quite doable.

Posted by jl98584 20:50 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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You are a Johnston. We always seem to have more things to do, than time to do it, even when we have time... that is our nature. The good news is that we are probably never board...

by rllomas

Sounds like you did the very quick tour of Savannah. Did you see any of the stately homes around the squares in downtown Savannah? Well, it looks like you 2 are missing most of the cold weather. It was a crisp 32 degrees this morning, with thick frost on just about everything. 250 miles in 5 days? you just might squeek by...ha ha...

by drque

Well, the blog is still a placeholder so maybe makes it look quicker then it was? The Juliette Gordon Low home is on one of the squares, quite stately. It is also next door to the inn where Kevin Spacey stayed while filming Midnight..., our tour pointed out many of the locales for that movie as well as others (Forrest Gump and a Julia Roberts film also). Should be able to get this caught up shortly...

by jl98584

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