“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Waynesboro in Burke County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)

Shell Bluff

Shell Bluff Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By David Seibert, July 17, 2005
1. Shell Bluff Marker
Inscription.  Shell Bluff on the Savannah River 15 miles northeast has been famous since Indian days because of its outcrops of fossil shells including those of giant oysters. These lived in the Eocene sea that covered this part of Georgia some 50 million years ago. Shell Bluff has been visited and described by many famous travelers and geologists including Bartram in 1791, Vanuxem in 1828, Conrad in 1834, and Sir Charles Lyell in 1842.
Erected by Works Progress Administration. (Marker Number 25 B-4.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentExplorationScience & Medicine. In addition, it is included in the Georgia Historical Society, the William Bartram Trails, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1791.
Location. 33° 5.485′ N, 82° 0.998′ W. Marker is in Waynesboro, Georgia, in Burke County. Marker is at the intersection of North Liberty Street (U.S. 25) and East 7th Street, on the right when traveling north on
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North Liberty Street. Marker is against a building on the southeast corner of the intersection; with its dark color (from a lack of maintenance) it can be difficult to see. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Waynesboro GA 30830, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Burke County's 8 Governors (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lost Burke County Men S.S. Otranto (about 400 feet away); Burke County (about 400 feet away); Burke County Veterans Memorial (about 500 feet away); Washington’s Southern Tour (about 500 feet away); Waynesborough (about 500 feet away); To Honor George Washington (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Presbyterian Church (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Waynesboro.
Additional commentary.
1. Noteworthy Shell Bluff Visitors
This marker’s list of noteworthy visitors begins with a name that represents two persons. John Bartram and his son William from Philadelphia visited the site in September 1765. Their visit occurred during an expedition through the Carolinas, Georgia and British East Florida from July 1765 until March 1766, This journey was undertaken following the elder Bartram’s appointment as the King’s Botanist for the British Colonies of North America. The year 1791 cited on the marker is the publication date for William Bartram’s Bartram’s Travels,
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an account of his extensive expedition through the southern colonies from 1773 until 1777. Although William probably did not revisited Shell Bluff during his return to the south, in Travels William describes Shell Bluff as a “curious phenomenon.” Bartram’s Travels remains in print and is also available online.

The next two listed visitors were early American geologists. Lardner Vanuxem, born Philadelphia, 1792, was educated as a geologist in Paris. He served as chair of chemistry and mineralogy at Columbia College in South Carolina from 1819 until 1826. Vaneuxem’s later career was as a professional geologist in New York state. Timothy Abbott Conrad, born Trenton, 1803, specialized in the study of shells. Conrad gave the name Ostrea georgiana to the type of large fossilized shell found at Shell Bluff.

Charles Lyell’s visit was during his journey through Canada and the United States from 1841 until 1842. Several destinations during his trip were sites that John or William Bartram visited and described during the 18th century. In 1845 Lyell published his account as Travels in North America. In Volume 1 of his Travels, Lyell wrote that he “fossilized for three days very diligently at Shell Bluff.” Lyell’s Travels are available online. Lyell was knighted in 1848, so during the visit he was not yet “Sir Charles,” as this marker identifies him.

During the 19th century the site on the Savannah River, locally known as “Shell Bluff Landing,” was a boarding point for commercial river traffic. The property is now privately owned and is not publicly accessible.
    — Submitted August 12, 2012, by Harry Gatzke of Huntsville, Alabama.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 16, 2019. It was originally submitted on October 30, 2008, by David Seibert of Sandy Springs, Georgia. This page has been viewed 2,652 times since then and 144 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on October 30, 2008, by David Seibert of Sandy Springs, Georgia. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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Sep. 24, 2022