Police used canoes to arrest skinny dippers in 1800s

The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.


Woodrow Wilson


I can’t find the whole tale, but I’ll tell you what I know.

For centuries, people living along the banks of the Savannah River have no doubt sought its cool waters for relief from summer heat.

Sometimes those people removed their clothing to do so.

Sometimes others, offended by such naked displays, called the law.

Yes, that seems to be the case. In reading an old book on Augusta history, I came across the vaguest of references to a police crackdown on the practice of “skinny-dipping” in the Savannah River.

It said the pastime became such a nuisance in the 1800s that the Augusta police department purchased “a fleet” of seven canoes and dugouts to pursue and arrest the culprits.

What an odd circumstance. Can you imagine it being discussed, debated and voted on by our modern Augusta Commission?

I almost thought it was made up, but then there is the number “seven” of canoes. That lends an air of veracity to the report. It also makes you wonder why they needed so many canoes. One, maybe two should have done the trick.

I thought I could find some old news story to verify the story in the computerized archives of this, the South’s Oldest Newspaper, but kept striking out.

So maybe you can help.

Where did the story of the police canoe fleet and its crackdown on nude river bathers come from?

Feel free to confess the sins of your great-greatgrandparents. The statute of limitations will surely keep their records as unencumbered as a summer dip in the river.


FLOOD VIDEO: Speaking of the river, I did another video on Augusta’s long history of floods. It’s on YouTube at: youtu.be/RoQUvP0xR7I.


YOUR MAIL: Your summer vacation postcards continue to arrive, and I know we’ll soon have all 50 states.

Pat and Gail were on an “extended honeymoon” in Frogmore, S.C. “Couldn’t afford Fripp Island,” they wrote. “What a blast! Next stop: Six Silos Over Heph­zibah!”

Ken Gordon, of Augusta, was “having a great time in Williamsburg. Took a Ghost Tour. Very interesting.”

Linda and Jimmie Adams were at Parkview Baseball Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., watching grandson Brian play for the Tincaps, the team owned by the San Die­go Padres. “He was picked in the eighth round from UK in 2011,” they write.


TODAY’S JOKE: The new father ran out of the delivery room and announced to the rest of his family: “We had twins!”

The family was so excited they immediately asked, “Who do they look like?”

The father paused, then said, “Each other.”