By ZACK LEE, Journal-Herald Intern
When Josh Landon was out fishing on a boat in the Satilla River on July 1, he never thought he would find what he did.
It was another boat.
Now, it's not the least bit out of the ordinary to see another boat on the Satilla. But the boat Josh found wasn't your ordinary Carolina Skiff. It was a dugout canoe ... an old one, maybe as much as 1,000 years old!
Landon, who frequently fishes the Satilla and surrounding creeks, came upon the relic near Millwood quite by accident. He happened to spot the bow of the small vessel perched up above the water line. The rest of it was stuck fast in a sandbed.
Landon said the canoe was "barely visible" and was covered with sand.
After realizing what it was, he notified a friend, Judge Mike Boggs, who in turn called the Department of Natural Resources, to find out who owned the land the canoe was on.
The land, it turns out, is owned by Rayonier Inc.
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta was notified and officials there decided that they want to exhibit the canoe in their museum.
Fernbank sent archaeologist Dennis Blanton to south Georgia a week ago to help fish out the canoe from the 17-mile creek, where it was moved to in mid-July.
Along with Blanton was a team of about 12 men. The crew transferred the canoe out of the creek and into a moving truck. Waycross' own Boy Scout Troop 304 was invited to attend the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing a dugout canoe.
The soggy, charred canoe was measured at 17 feet long, one of the longest, if not the longest, ever found in Georgia.
"There have only been four or five reported canoe findings in the state of Georgia, and most were between 10 and 12 feet long," Blanton said.
It isn't known right now just how old the canoe is, but Blanton stated that "it is possible that it is up to 1,000 years old."
He explained that it is thought to be that old because there are no signs of metal tool markings on the canoe. Instead of using metal tools, the canoe was charred on the top and dug out the rest of the way, almost assuredly by native Americans.
The canoe, which is probably either a cyprus or pine log, is now at the museum to undergo a preservation process before it is put on display. The process involves immersing it in a more stable liquid than water, where it is rubbed down with turpentine three times a day for three to four months.
Blanton said it would then be preserved enough to go on display.
"We hope to have it on display by beginning to mid-summer," Blanton said.
Anyone interested in seeing the canoe should be able to do so by visiting the Fernbank Museum of Natural History this summer in Atlanta.