Ocmulgee National Monument

Thornton, Richard. Ocmulgee National Monument: A Fresh Look at Ocmulgee Bottoms. Exclusive Digital Rights Copyright 2015 by AccessGenealogy.com.

The Natural History of Ocmulgee Bottoms

Ocmulgee Bottoms is a corridor of the Ocmulgee River Flood Plain in the central region of the State of Georgia that begins at the Fall Line in Macon, GA and continues 38 miles southward to near Hawkinsville, GA. This region is located in Bibb, Twiggs, Houston, Bleckley and Pulaski Counties. The Ocmulgee River’s velocity slows dramatically upon entering the Bottoms and has a serpentine channel. Over the eons, the river here has meandered frequently across the breath of the flood plain, leaving hundreds of ponds and swamps, plus a deep layer of rich, alluvial soil. On top of the alluvial soil is from one to ten feet or red clay that was deposited during the period when cotton was cultivated in the Piedmont, upstream.

The Natural Environment of Ocmulgee Bottoms

Beginning in the late 1500s and continuing through the late 1600s, European maps showed a large lake in central Georgia that received both the Ocmulgee and Oconee River. Its outlet was the Altamaha River, which the French called the May River. The memoirs of the commander of Fort Caroline, René de Laudonnière, wrote in his memoir that several expeditions which he dispatched in a northwestward direction from the fort, encountered a large shallow lake at the headwaters of the May. These expeditions continued northward across the lake in their canoes and then traveled up the Oconee River to the Kingdom of Apalache and then the Appalachian Mountains. No mention is made of the Ocmulgee River by Laudonnière, but it also appeared on later maps of the region, flowing into Lake Tama. Apparently someone, either French or Spanish did canoe northwestward across the shallow lake and travel up the Ocmulgee.

A Fresh Look at Ocmulgee Bottoms

Many of the most fundamental assumptions by the Anthropology profession concerning the Pre-European history of the Lower Southeast were developed during the mid-20th century as a result of a massive, federally-funded excavation of archaeological sites near Macon, GA. While today, anthropologists, museums and the National Park Service present a united front stating that the body of knowledge, which resulted from the Ocmulgee Bottoms studies, was the result of comprehensive analysis, plus well-thought out consensus by some of the most brilliant men of their time, the truth is quite a bit different.

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