A wooden footbridge takes visitors through the forest at Half Moon Lake, part of the Ogeechee Canal. — Photo courtesy of Amy Pine
If it weren't for the Ogeechee Canal, Savannah probably wouldn't have the nation’s second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade. When the canal was built in the 1800s, Irish laborers were brought to the area from the Northeast to work alongside slaves to build the 16.5-mile canal that would join the Savannah River to the Ogeechee and Altamah rivers.
These are just some of the interesting facts you'll learn at the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center on Fort Argyle Road just outside the city.
For a nominal fee, visitors to the museum and nature center can explore some 200 acres of swamp and woodland, including five miles of wooded trails. The site also features a museum with relics including cooking utensils, glass bottles, plates, horseshoes and prehistoric pottery. Guests can also watch a short video on the canal’s history and see a re-creation of the canal’s impressive lock system.
After walking the trails at the nature center, ask the staff to direct you to Half Moon Lake, a hidden gem just a mile-and-a-half down the road. Half Moon Lake is so hidden, even most locals have never heard of it. The site, which is maintained by the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society (which also oversees the museum and nature center), includes a walking trail that runs by the lake–a manmade reservoir that served as the water supply during construction of the canal. The highlight of the trail is a wooden footbridge that offers spectacular views of the lake’s flora and fauna.