Why Georgia has a bump

When I was very small, I became fascinated by maps. One day, looking at the map of the USA, I noticed that Georgia bump at the bottom.

So I asked my mother, pointing to the bump on Georgia: What's that? And she said A Swamp. Well, I was all excited and went and found lots of Swamps: Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri have Swamps on the bottom and Oklahoma had a long thin Swamp on the side.

However, I grew older and wiser and learned what a Swamp really is, and that there is indeed a Swamp near Georgia's bump (gray smudge). It is the Okefenokee Swamp, where Pogo lives. Warning: This is an approximate rendering. Do not use it to fly a helicopter to the Swamp.

The boundary between Georgia and Spain in 1783 (Florida was part of Spain in 1783) was defined by treaty to be a line starting at the 31st degree of latitude, proceeding by a couple of jumps that I won't describe here, to the head of the St. Mary's River, and down the middle of that river to the Atlantic. St. Mary's River goes south and then makes a u-turn back north, then east to the sea. This u-turn includes a roughly rectangular piece of land about 12 miles east to west and 14 miles from north to south. That is Georgia's bump!

Some years ago, I went to a Sacred Harp singing in Hoboken, GA, which is very near the Okefenokee. There, David Lee told me that the reason the swamp is there is that there is a sand ridge east of it that keeps the water from flowing toward the Atlantic Ocean. So to get to the sea, the St. Mary's has to flow south till it can find a way through the ridge, and then back north and east -- making the bump! So the sand ridge causes Georgia's bump.


Now why is there a sand ridge? Is it an old beach?

Charles Wells, April, 2004