July 17-20, 2014 – Savannah, GA (continued)

Thursday we visited the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah.  This wonderful museum is located at the old Central of Georgia Railroad Repair Shops.  The roundhouse is the major attraction in the museum.  The original roundhouse built in 1855, formed a complete circle and was only 250 ft in diameter.  In 1926 it was redesigned and expanded to accommodate larger steam locomotives.  The roundhouse was divided into 34 stalls, each over 138 ft long.

It was great fun to watch the turntable working.  Here the engine and passenger car that we will take a tour on are getting positioned on the correct track.

After we boarded the train backed onto the turntable again to get positioned with another track for a tour of another part of the yard.  We used the turntable 3 more times during our short tour.  It was great fun to actually be on a turntable while it is moving and see how it operates up close.


We also toured a couple of restored Executive Rail Cars.  After our tours we walked around the yard looking at the old buildings and learning what they were used for.  This is a great museum and we enjoyed spending the morning here.

Next to the railroad museum was Battlefield Memorial Park on the site of the Springhill Redoubt, one of 14 British earth fortifications surrounding Savannah in 1779,   The 800 stone markers represent the approximate number of American and French allied soldiers killed or wounded in the Battle of Savannah on October 8, 1779.   

Inscribed on the stones are the names and stories of people throughout the entire Revolutionary War from all the states, countries and cultures involved.

When we finished looking at the memorial we walked a couple of blocks down the street to the Distillery Restaurant where we had a great lunch.  Rex enjoyed all the signs with sayings about beer but especially liked this one.  Now he has more incentive to enjoy a good beer once in a while!

After lunch we drove a few miles to the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, GA.   Rex served in the Eight Air Force, 97th Bomb Wing, 340th Air Refueling Squadron so he was excited to visit this museum.  The museum mainly focused on the operations of the Eighth Air Force based in England during World War II.   We saw a series of film that put us in a B-17 bomber on a mission to bomb Germany.   The lighting and sound effects made it seem like you were really on the plane.  After we saw the films the docent told us if we took a picture in front of this mural it would look like you were actually standing next to the B-17.

One of the planes displayed was the B-17 “City of Savannah”.

This was a great museum and we enjoyed looking at all the exhibits telling the story of the Eight Air Force and honoring the men and women who served. 

Friday we drove back to the Historic District of Savannah and spent about 3 ½ hours walking around the beautiful squares.  As we were crossing the Talmadge Memorial Bridge we got this picture of a container ship going up the Savannah River.

James Edward Oglethorpe founded Savannah in 1733 and designed the city in square grids around park like squares.  A few of the squares have been destroyed to make room for a parking garage, a highway and the civic center but 22 squares have been preserved.  On the way to see the squares we crossed Oglethorpe Street which has a beautiful tree lined island along its entire length.

Monterey Square was our favorite square – we think it is the most beautiful.

The movie "Forrest Gump" was filmed on Chippewa Square.  The park bench where Forrest sat at the beginning of the film with the feather flying around and landing at his feet was sitting in front of this wall.

We enjoyed looking at all the old mansions in the Historic District.  The Green-Meldrim Mansion was built in the 1850’s for $93,000 – a lot of money for that time.  This house was also used as headquarters for General William Tecumseh Sherman from December 22, 1864 until February 1, 1865 - we liked all the wrought ironwork.

This is the Mercer House on Monterey Square and was Jim William’s home in the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”.

The beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Lafayette Square was originally built in 1876 and was rebuilt after a fire destroyed much of it in 1898.  Another renovation took place in 2000 and is the seat of the diocese that includes ninety counties in southern Georgia.

The beautiful Andrew Low House was also on Lafayette Square.  This house was built in 1849 for cotton merchant Andrew Low.  Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, grew up in this house.

We also walked through Colonial Park, the second cemetery in colonial Savannah.  This was the burying ground for the city from about 1750 until it was closed against burials in 1853.  The cemetery became a city park in 1896.  It was interesting walking through the park and looking at the old headstones.   During a renovation of the cemetery, the headstones of the graves that could not be located were placed against the back wall.  This is just of few of the headstones along the wall.

At the end of the City Market was a fountain where the kids were playing in the water to cool off.

After spending over 3 hours walking around we were tired, hot and hungry so we stopped at the Six Pence Pub for a great lunch.  On the way back to the Jeep we stopped at the Savannah Candy Kitchen to get some pralines so we can compare them to the ones we bought at River Street Sweets during our bus tour on Tuesday - both are delicious and we can’t decide which ones are best.  We really enjoyed seeing the beautiful squares of Savannah and all the old houses around them.

Mike and Brenda invited us for a cookout and we enjoyed a great meal in their beautiful house and enjoyed spending more time with them.

Saturday afternoon we drove to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, a 29,175 acre preserve and breeding ground for native birds established in 1927.  After looking around the Visitor Center we decided to take the 5-mile Wildlife Drive – hoping to see an alligator or two.  We were surprised to see this little guy just inside the entrance to the Wildlife Drive – our first alligator in the wild!!!

We saw quite a few birds – many of which we are not familiar with.  The chicks could walk on top of the lily pads.

This section of the drive was beautiful with all the Spanish moss hanging on the trees.

Shortly into the drive we, starting seeing more alligators – these two were swimming in a small pond beside the road.

About halfway through the drive the road follows a canal and we saw a lot of alligators in the water and along the banks.  This big guy was sitting on the bank just below the road.

Here was another bird that we are not familiar with.

We really enjoyed our drive and were so excited to see so many alligators – we counted 32!  We thought this five-mile drive would take us maybe a half hour but it took us over three hours as we saw so many alligators that we kept stopping, getting out and taking pictures.

Sunday morning we met Mike and Brenda at Scull Creek Boat House for brunch.  This is a great restaurant on the water next to a boat storage building.  We sat outside on the patio and watched the boat storage buys putting boats in the water and taking boats out of the water using huge forklifts.  They stack the boats 3 high in the huge storage building next to the restaurant.

We really enjoyed visiting this area despite the heat and humidity.  We especially like Savannah and all its history. We also are enjoying the delicious South Carolina peaches, watermelon and cantaloupe. We enjoyed visiting with Mike and Brenda and thank them for their generous hospitality.


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