Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Low Country Autumn Morning

My daughter reported snowflakes this morning in Minnesota. Not surprising -- it is nearly November!

I have missed the flames of color, the golds and reds, the fireworks display of the northern fall. But there are subtle changes, little bursts of color, here in the South, that are beautiful in their own way.

Near our house is a trail along an abandoned railroad bed for the old Savannah and Charleston Railway. Built in the mid 1800s, once it connected two of the most important seaports in the Southeast.

Created to transport rice, indigo, and cotton from plantations, it was quickly co-opted by Secession and then the Civil War to provide protection and supply Confederate troops with food and other supplies.


Near our house the dike runs through abandoned rice fields on either side.

In December 1864, during his March to the Sea, Confederate General William T. Sherman sent Union forces ahead to cut the Confederate supply line. They were unsuccessful but sections of the railroad were severely damaged.

As I walk I can't help but think of those who built this railroad by hand, men and mules, standing in mud, water, mosquitoes, in the oppressive heat and humidity of South Carolina.

A hundred miles through unpopulated land and water.

Brutal and dangerous work.

Most of the men were slaves leased from their owners, the owners, of course, receiving the wages. Not all were men either. In the book "Railroads in the African-American Experience," I read the story of Rose.

Rose was a house slave leased out as a cook for the laborers. She was sent several hundred miles from her home to where the railroad was being built through the unpopulated South Carolina swamps. For miles and miles the workers had to stand in the water and build dikes and cypress pilings for the rails to run on. There was no solid ground. Rose found herself with only crude cooking utensils and just flour, lard, bacon, molasses to feed a crew of enslaved negroes and some Irish railroad workers.The only woman there, she was isolated, vulnerable, terrified, and miserable.


The original old cypress pilings driven in by hand still stand like sentinels, witnesses to another time in history.






The pilings on our island stretch across the deep and wide waters of the Broad River, topped by the remains of a covered trestle and flanked by a new metal fishing pier.

We walk here in the mornings and sometimes in the evening sit on the pier to watch the moon rise.




  1. Without knowing the history it would be easy to romanticise the old rail line. I always enjoy reading your posts as you have a great way with words. Will you be venturing North for Christmas?

  2. Cynthia I am jealous you live in a very beautiful and friendly land

  3. Those old rail trails are great for hiking and cycling. You might miss the colours from the north but surely not the snow and cold. The history of the place is pretty sad. Hope you don't get too many mosquitoes now.

  4. No snow here in St Paul....YET! Fprecast is for lots of rain tomorrow that might turn to snow, I suppose. Your new home certainly has lots of history to explore. I loved our one and only trip to Charleston a few years ago. Enjoy it!

  5. Rose, I expect she had no choice, a miserable existence for her along with those that built anything in that area.
    I bet sitting on the pier and watching the Moon rise must be magic.

  6. It's so interesting to see your impressions of your new environment as you experience the seasonal changes there and notice everything.

  7. We have some sad pars of our history. You're right there were unimaginable conditions. Interesting post.

  8. No snow yet here but that may change very soon:( Interesting bit of history, I cannot imagine how they braved the bugs, and snakes. Fall color is all over here, I hope to catch the Larch with some sunlight on them...we will see if the rain/snow makes that possible. How are your online classes coming along? :)

  9. Cynthia
    As well as a most photographic display of your new Southern surroundings, may I congratulate you
    on your excellent historical information.
    Sure makes reading your blog a pleasure.
    Big storm here yesterday thankfully missed Brisbane but 80 kms west took a frightful battering.
    Today storms linger around, but it is the start of the storm season. Raining here on and off.
    I wish it would just do one or the other! Wishful thinking, eh?
    PS: I trust Mason is keeping up his "Aussie" lingo lessons?????

  10. Thank you for this very interesting course in history... very often we're so enamored by beautiful landscapes we forget the human toil that brought so much of it about. Broad River looks so serene and beautiful, evening moon watching must be wonderful there!

  11. You have some real interesting stories to tell about the history of the places you visit. I can imagine the miserable conditions the workers had to their job.

  12. It is good to remember the suffering of slavery - lest we forget. What a lovely quiet place - no crowds there.

  13. Knowing the dangers and hardships it took to build the rails and the trails around them we should use them to show our respect for the hard work they put in, just like you do.

    Anytime I've moved away from my home state I've missed the autumn colors but once I know winter has set in [in my home state] I am more than happy to live with a milder winter. :-)

  14. Such a lot of history there Cynthia; such hardships suffered by those people who worked on the railway. It's good to be reminded sometimes of what people once endured. Thank you for all the lovely comments you leave on my blog. To answer your question about transferring designs to fabric for stitching, I sometimes use the old tracing using a window pane, but also use a light box. But I also have a transfer pencil that I trace over the design with and then iron the design on to the fabric. There are also other techniques like printing the design on to wash away stabiliser, and then place the stabiliser on your fabric, embroider it and then wash the stabiliser out.

  15. The story of Rose gave me goosebumps. To think how afraid she must have been and had no choice in the matter. Those were sad times.

  16. I noted the fact that you tried to tell the whole story. That's not always done. Thanks for telling about Rose....:)