The Okefenokee Swamp covers nearly 700 square miles, almost all of which is in Georgia.
It has a long history as a wilderness, a public common, and a refuge.
Over the next fifteen years the company systematically built railroads across the swamp and logged the cypress trees of the northern and western Okefenokee.
Other companies, especially the Americus Manufacturing Company, conducted railroad logging operations in the swamp between 19. Individuals and small companies logged the remaining stands of cypress and pine during the late 1920s; Johnson and Sons Lumber Company may have logged as late as 1942.
The Georgia legislature in 1889 authorized Governor John B. The Suwanee Canal Company purchased the property on January 1, 1891.
The company attempted to drain the swamp from 1891 until 1893.
Steam transformed both the Okefenokee culture and the landscape after 1880.
By 1900 the old-growth longleaf pine forest that encircled the swamp was a forest of stumps.
Industrialization brought jobs at sawmills, turpentine stills, and on the railroads.
Learning from the mistakes of the Suwanee Canal Company, the Hebard Lumber Company carefully studied the timber of the swamp and decided to employ railroads to harvest cypress.
They leased the property to the Hebard Cypress Company, which built a large sawmill near Waycross and constructed a railroad to the northwestern rim of the swamp in 1909-10.
These pioneers herded cattle, raised hogs, hunted and fished, and cultivated small corn patches and gardens. They occasionally visited Traders Hill or Centre Village, trading hides, jerky, and pelts for salt, ammunition, trinkets, and entertainment.
A few families moved onto islands in the swamp during the 1850s.
Many articles extolling the wonders of the Okefenokee wilderness were published in newspapers, magazines, and books.