This past weekend, the crew removed another estimated ton of trash from the area we call the Underground Bluffs. This area, behind Aqueduct Park on Goodrich Street, is where our historians are convinced was the transfer point of a major smuggling operation during Augusta's antebellum period. It is a site on the Underground Railroad. It is ground that is sacred to us all, and now it is being cleaned and reclaimed.
Members of the Junior League and Augusta State University's Political Science Club joined our longtime volunteers last Saturday in picking up and removing old tires, barrels, batteries, cans and bottles from the forest area. Crystal Eskola, a member of the Canal Authority who is also a master gardener, was on hand to help identify native plant species so that no plant of importance in the Heritage Area was destroyed. She also brought with her the authority's plans for walking trails in that area and shared with us the authority's zeal for improvements on the canal.
Everyone seems to be in agreement that the canal area holds the key to Augusta's future as a destination point and will spur yet another major boom in our local economy as it has in the distant past. During Saturday's cleanup, a volunteer discovered a 19th-century wooden water pipe from the old city water system, and that artifact will join other artifacts we have recovered and will be placed in the Canal Museum for all to see.
The vision of Outdoor Augusta! is becoming a serious reality. It will not be long before Augusta will be a destination for people seeking to enjoy our natural splendor that is within walking distance from a vibrant downtown entertainment district. Whitewater Park, Aqueduct Park, the Underground Bluffs and Lake Olmstead all are parts of the larger outdoor experience on our unique waterways that is just waiting to be discovered.
When combined with North Augusta's beautiful natural areas, Phinizy Swamp and a rejuvenated Riverwalk, Augusta is poised to become a major tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts. All of this is being done by the hands of volunteers who care about the future of this city and we commend them for sacrificing their Saturday morning once a month to make it all happen.
Our future generations and visitors from all over the world will take note that people in our time worked hard to polish the jewel that will be there for all to enjoy, respect and maintain forever. It has been our pleasure to watch what has become a revolution here in our own back yard!
Joe Bowles, Andy Cheek, John and Kelly Meyer, Joe Jackson, Miron Tyrell, Michael Griffin and Scott Hudson