Ocmulgee River

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The Ocmulgee River (ok-MUHL-gee) is a tributary of the Altamaha River, approximately 255 mi (410 km) long, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Noted for its relatively unspoiled and gentle current, it provides the principal drainage for a large section of the Piedmont and coastal plain of central Georgia.

Description

It is formed in north central Georgia southeast of Atlanta by the confluence of the Yellow, South, and Alcovy rivers, which join as arms of the Lake Jackson reservoir. It flows southeast past Macon and joins the Oconee from the northwest to a form the Altamaha near Lumber City.

Downstream from Lake Jackson the river flows freely and is considered relatively unspoiled among the rivers of the region. Its low gradient of approximately 1 ft/mile (24 cm/km) give it wide and peaceful current along most of its course and make it popular destination for canoeing. It receives treated wastewater from 13 facilities along its course. The river is a popular destination for catfishing and bass fishing.

History

The banks of the river were inhabited by the Mississippian culture between the 10th and 12th centuries. The river passes the remnants of several prehistoric Native American villages at Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon. In 1540 Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto traversed the region and baptized Native American converts in the river. In the 18th century, the Hitchiti, later part of the Creek Indian confederation, lived near present-day Macon in Ocmulgee Fields. The name of the river probably comes from a Hitchiti phrase oki mulgis means "bubbling water".

In 1806 the U.S. acquired the area between the Oconee and Ocmulgee from the Creek Indians by the First Treaty of Washington. That same year United States Army established Fort Benjamin Hawkins overlooking the Ocmulgee Fields. In 1819 the Creek Indians held their last meeting at Ocmulgee Fields. In the same year, the McCall brother established a barge-building operation at Macon. The first steamboat arrived on the river in 1829. During the 19th century the river provided the principal water navigation route for Macon, allowing the development of the cotton industry in the surrounding region. In 1842 the river was connected by railroad to Savannah The river froze from bank to bank in 1886. In 1994 devastating floods on the river after heavy rains caused widespread damage around Macon.

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