National Geographic: Realm of the Alligator

Synopsis:
Year:
1987
3 Views

This is a place of unseen danger

and subtle beauty.

It is a mysterious swamp called

"Okefenokee"...

the realm of the Alligator.

Okefenokee...

a forbidding place once

thought to harbor deadly diseases.

It sheltered fugitives

and inspired fear and superstition.

Today Okefenokee Swamp is a

well-know wildlife refuge.

But even for people like

biologist-photographer.

Dr. John Paling,

it is not entirely welcoming.

"Whenever I go back to Okefenokee now,

I've got mixed feelings about it".

From the air when you go across it,

it looks just so beautiful

and so serene and so natural

and so appealing.

And yet it can be a place

of such contrasts

that it seems almost as if man was never

intended to be there for long.

Okefenokee Swamp is a

A mosaic of islands, forest, marshes,

and open water.

It's famed for its alligators

and as the home of Pogo,

The comic-strip possum.

Although it overlaps

the Florida state line,

most of Okefenokee lies

in southeastern Georgia.

Okefenokee's population

of Seminole Indians

was driven out in the 1830s.

It was soon infiltrated

by white settlers called "swampers."

By the 1930s the swampers

were well established here,

Showing off alligator nests and eggs

for visiting photographers.

The swampers were a breed apart.

Many had few needs or

interests outside Okefenokee.

Those who knew them admired their

simplicity and self-reliance.

Soon after the turn of the century,

virgin stands of cypress brought

an invasion to the swamp.

This and earlier schemes

to build a ship canal

through the swamp and even to drain it

threatened to destroy Okefenokee.

But much of Okefenokee's prime timber

was cleared in less than 20 years.

Soon the swampers were alone again.

In 1937, Okefenokee was declared

a national wildlife refuge.

The human residents would

eventually leave.

One old-timer said,

we have the swamp and that's good.

But the swampers are all gone.

It's just a shame we can't have both.

More than fifty years

after they were abandoned,

relics of the old logging camps

still can be found.

Now deep in regrowing forest,

they're objects of curiosity

for biologists like

Kent Vliet and John Paling.

This is an old train.

Oh, this is?

The engine was up front...

and there would be water

in this old cylinder.

After working here for several seasons

Paling, born in England,

has become intimately familiar

with this Georgia swamp.

And there's something even more

dramatic over here.

Come and have a guess sat this.

What do you make of this?

That's some sort of a chassis.

Right.

Is that what they carried the logs on?

Nope. Try again.

Don't forget we're on

an island in the middle of Okefenokee,

so try again.

Some sort of swamp buggy

or something like that?

It's a car. They had three cars

on the island.

Really? That's a heavy...

Heavy duty, isn't it?

Heavy chassis...

But look how well the metal's

been preserved. Yeah.

And there's another thing

to pick out too.

You see why it's so good?

It's British

Right-hand drive.

It's Durant car that they brought over

on the trains for three people.

Is that right?

Yeah. There were three cars

that would chug up and down.

And this thing is preserved so well.

Many cars that are ten years old

don't have a chassis as good as that.

that's a very heavy chassis.

Right. I think it was just to

take people up and down.

There's a big turpentine still

at the end of the island too.

And there was a cinema,

there was a barber ship.

All gone now.

It's amazing.

Yep.

Trains.

When the logging company

finished up business,

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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"National Geographic: Realm of the Alligator" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Oct. 2019. <https://www.scripts.com/script/national_geographic%3A_realm_of_the_alligator_14559>.

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