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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Savannah in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Savannah's Wharves

 
 
Savannah's Wharves Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2009
1. Savannah's Wharves Marker
Inscription.  

One of the first problems facing Savannah settlers was the lack of adequate facilities to dock vessels. While river depths along the bluff Oglethorpe selected for the town provided excellent anchorage, the swift currents and steep bank made construction of wharves very difficult. A popular solution was to construct a crib that could be sunk with ballast, brick rubble or other material. When technology developed to screw in or drive piles into the river bottom, wharf construction became economical and practical. In the 19th century, steam power made pile driving and heavy lifting more efficient. As a result, heavy stone and masonry wharf structures could be built on piles driven far into the river bottom.

Loading Lumber for Export
Rafts were frequently used to facilitate loading. Here, lumber is shown being loaded through ports in a schooner's bow.

Three Masted Schooner at the Wharf
In 1874, the City of Savannah passed an ordinance to prohibit the construction of solid bulkhead wharves along the waterfront. After consulting "the most experienced of our wharf-builders," a plan for piling-supported
Savannah's Wharves Marker image. Click for full size.
By Savannah's Wharves Marker
2. Savannah's Wharves Marker
wharves like the one to the left was adopted.

1870 Panorama of the Savannah Waterfront
By the 19th century, industrial equipment to drive piles made wharf construction more practical in high current environments like the Savannah River where tidal change was a major factor. Wharves along the waterfront easily accommodated large sea-going vessels but afforded little convenience for small craft and ferries.

Wooden Wharves on the Waterfront
Until replaced by concrete and steel in the 20th century, most of Savannah's wharves were built of wood.

Colonists Unload Supplies on the Savannah Bluff
While the bluff Oglethorpe selected for the settlement was a healthy location, the embankment restricted access to the river. Loading, unloading and boarding vessels proved difficult. Tides and currents made mooring next to the bank complicated. This problem would be a persistent one for the citizens of Savannah.

Wharf at Low Tide
In 1872, the City of Savannah contracted with ship and wharf builder Frederick Krenson to construct a public wharf at the foot of Lincoln Street. That wharf would be Savannah's second public wharf to be constructed of masonry on pilings driven into the river bottom. The "handsome and durable" dock was designed to accommodate small vessels regardless of the level of the tide. The
1870 Panorama of the Savannah Waterfront image. Click for full size.
By Savannah's Wharves Marker
3. 1870 Panorama of the Savannah Waterfront
wharf that Krenson built is one of the few features of the 19th century Savannah waterfront that survives today.
 
Erected 2009 by U.S. Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Georgia Dept. of Transportation. (Marker Number 8.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraIndustry & CommerceSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 32° 4.856′ N, 81° 5.243′ W. Marker is in Savannah, Georgia, in Chatham County. Marker is on East River Street, on the left when traveling east. Located near the Lincoln St. Ramp, Riverside. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Savannah GA 31401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Shipping in the Port of Savannah (a few steps from this marker); Christmas in Savannah 1864 (within shouting distance of this marker); Savannah's Cobblestones (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Georgia Hussars (about 300 feet away); Savannah Marine Korean War Monument (about 300 feet away); Savannah, Birthplace of Prince Hall Masonry in Georgia (about 300 feet away); Salzburger Monument of Reconciliation (about 400 feet away); Confederate Savannah (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Savannah.
 
Three Masted Schooner at the Wharf and Wooden Wharves on the Waterfront image. Click for full size.
By Savannah's Wharves Marker
4. Three Masted Schooner at the Wharf and Wooden Wharves on the Waterfront
Colonists Unload Supplies on the Savannah Bluff image. Click for full size.
By Savannah's Wharves Marker
5. Colonists Unload Supplies on the Savannah Bluff
Savannah's Wharves Marker image. Click for full size.
By Savannah's Wharves Marker
6. Savannah's Wharves Marker
Savannah's Wharves at low tide as seen today image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, May 24, 2009
7. Savannah's Wharves at low tide as seen today
with Concrete pilings as mentioned on marker
Savannah's Wharves Marker seen riverside, wharf area image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, May 24, 2009
8. Savannah's Wharves Marker seen riverside, wharf area
Savannah's Wharves Marker riverside image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, May 24, 2009
9. Savannah's Wharves Marker riverside
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 4, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,195 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on June 4, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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Aug. 8, 2020