William Bartram first came to Augusta in 1773 to attend an Indian congress that resulted in a new treaty between the Cherokee and Creek Indians and the colony of Georgia.
This fall, fans of his internationally known work as a botanist and observer of Colonial life will converge in the Garden City to celebrate his work and promote the expansion of the popular trails that bear his name.
"This is a meeting they move around to different places associated with the Bartram Trail," said Judy Gordon, an Augusta botanist and longtime fan of Bartram's work.
More than 50 visitors are expected for this year's Bartram Trail Conference, scheduled for Oct. 21-23.
The biennial meetings were established in 1976 as part of America's Bicentennial observance to locate and mark the meandering route of the Philadelphia naturalist.
Dr. Ed Cashin, the director of the Center for the Study of Georgia History, said Bartram meetings have been held in Gainesville and Savannah - but never in Augusta.
"Bartram was very familiar with this area, and he loved it," said Dr. Cashin, the author of a book on Bartram. "We want the group to visit us and see what Augusta is like today."
Augusta was the starting point for many of Bartram's expeditions, during which he gathered information for his written observations of Indian tribes and the region's flora and fauna. A collection of Bartram's engravings, Elements of Botany, was published in 1803.
The conference works to promote interest in developing public-access recreational trails for hiking, canoeing and other activities, according to the group's Web site.
Augusta has several segments of Bartram Trail nearby, including a 10-mile bike trail dedicated last year near Thurmond Dam.
This year's meeting in Augusta will include a tour of Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, the Augusta Canal, Historic Wrightsboro and other local areas.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.