Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Oatland Island's Storied Past is a Story Worth Telling...

Image courtesy Oatland Island

 Who knew? 

Oatland Island, which can be viewed from Richardson Creek on an Island Shuttle Boat Tour, has a long and fascinating history. In the 1700s and 1800s, it was a plantation, undoubtedly worked by slaves. In 1927, it was the location of a home for retired Railroad Conductors. (In "Once Upon an Island" by Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski,  Walter "Cork" Shaaf recounts those old conductors fixing nets and fishing rigs for him and the other children living on the island.) In 1941, it became a home and research facility for women and children with syphilis and other STDs. In 1945, penicillin eliminated the need for that function, and the old building became a component of what we now call the CDC. 

And it was there that the No Pest Strip (marketed by Shell if memory serves) and the flea collar for pets was invented! After the CDC consolidated facilities in Atlanta, the property was deemed excess and was given to the local school system. School children have enjoyed learning about the natural world there since the early 1970s, and I have picked up groups at their dock on Richardson Creek with Michael Neal and Bull River Cruises in conjunction with Kelly Tours. 

As I wind through these backwater creeks, I learn more and more that every place you see has a story. Chasing those stories down, and sharing them, is great fun!

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