Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Great Dismal Swamp

Our 4-h group's project for the year is Wetlands. We have a lot of those around here, considering we are on the coast, have many rivers, and reside in the swamp.

Monday, we visited the Great Dismal Swamp and more specifically the Washington Ditch. This ditch was an attempt to drain the swamp and was commissioned by George Washington. They failed. They used slaves as laborers in this arduous task. Here's a shot of the ditch.
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Yeah, I know, don't wet your pants or anything. The boardwalk and the trails leading to the lake were great but the ditch, eh, not so much. Knowing that you are standing on the ground where prominent historical figures stood and worked could be exciting if you are into all that. I am.

What the boys found most interesting on our adventure was this: A grasshopper, I am assuming.
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What I found most interesting about our excursion today was learning the history. Apparently, runaway slaves used the swamp for hiding and were known as maroon colonies. Research shows these to be one of the largest maroon colonies, or hidden communities of escaped slaves in the US. Some used the swamp as a gateway to the VA/NC ports for finding safe passage north. Amazingly, these people lived isolated in the swamps upwards of thirty years and lived only on what they found on the land. No outside food, pots and pans, or building materials were ever found as they never ventured out for fear of being captured and returned to slavery.

I've heard of the underground railroad, but never of these people. I love homeschooling my son. I am learning so much more than I ever did the first time around.


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How sweet of you to drop by.