[Fig. 5] The Canoochee River is one of the most enchanting rivers in Georgia to canoe, with its tea-colored swamp water contrasting with white, sandy banks of the Coastal Plain. Beginning near Swainsboro in Emanuel County, the river flows 85 miles past extensive river swamps until it meets the Ogeechee River just north of Interstate 95 near Kings Ferry. Abundant wildlife species are found in the protective swamps, including many species of warblers, woodpeckers, owls, and occasional wading birds in the lower reaches. Turtles, snakes, and frogs thrive in the wet habitat, and alligators are seen peeking out of the water. The river's floodplain provides an important nursery for fish and in the main channel red breast, blue gill, crappie, sunfish, and channel catfish are common catches. The habitat provides refuge to many mammals such as raccoons, opossums, deer, and bobcats. The Canoochee has the reputation of supporting the most numerous and largest water snakes in Georgia. Wasp nests and spider webs hang from vegetation that borders the river. Ogeechee lime, cypress, black and sweet gum, willow, and swamp white oak grow along the banks.
The Canoochee in its upper reaches north of the Evans County line is difficult if not impossible to run most of the year without encountering many deadfalls and requiring countless portages. Some put in at a park northwest of Claxton where GA 169 crosses the Canoochee for a run to US 301, the location of a small public park and a sandstone outcrop known as The Rocks. The next run is from this park to Rogers Bridge where Nevils-Daisy Road crosses. Some choose to continue on to US 280. At US 280, Lotts Creek adds its flow to the Canoochee, creating a much more canoeable stream, and a small park provides easy access. However, 4 miles south from 280, the river enters Fort Stewart Military Reservation and continuing on requires advance permission, or you risk having your canoe confiscated by military authorities. The total run from US 280 to Kings Ferry is 54 river miles, with four access points between for shorter trips. The base provost marshal's office has details of river access on the base.
[Fig. 3(3)] Bird-watching is a recommended activity near the historic site of Fort Argyle. In 1733, Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe erected Fort Argyle near where the Canoochee and Ogeechee meet on the west bank of the Ogeechee. In 1734, it was the only important military outpost against the Spaniards, who occupied Florida. Oglethorpe garrisoned a detachment of rangers here to command one of the main passes by which enemy Indians had recently invaded South Carolina.
Fort Argyle is now contained by Fort Stewart Military Reservation, but approaches to the colonial fort site are good for bird-watching, especially resident and migratory songbirds such as prothonotary warblers, and great horned, barred, and Eastern screech owls. With permission, birding is allowed at Fort Stewart where bird watchers and can see colonies of Bachman's sparrows and red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Love's Seafood Restaurant. US 17, Richmond Hill. Obadiah Love opened his fish camp/restaurant in 1949 on the banks of the Ogeechee River. Love's has the kind of history that makes a great fish restaurant. At first it was a fish camp. Mrs. Love accommodated local fishermen by frying their catch for 50 centsif they cleaned it first. This evolved to selling catfish and shad dinners, then shrimp, oysters, scallops, and other local seafood delicacies. Today, it is a full-service restaurant operated by son Obadiah Love Jr. that offers steaks as well, but catfish remains the most popular dish, with approximately 800 pounds sold a week. Not only is the food good, but the view of the Ogeechee River is hard to beat. Producers of the movie Forrest Gump thought so, and selected it as a filming location. Directions: From I-95, take Exit 16/94, go left 2.5 miles to US 17. Go right and go 2.5 miles. Love's is on the right hand side before the bridge. Open Tuesday through Saturday, dinner. Sunday, lunch and dinner. Moderate. (912) 925-3616. River Oaks Seafood, 2943 Kilkenny Road, Richmond Hill. Another Richmond Hill option is this seafood and steak restaurant with a magnificent view. Open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Moderate. (912) 727-3633.
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