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Indians occupied the Okefenokee during the late Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods of Georgia prehistory. Sand mounds were constructed in the swamp during this period.

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A number of writers urged that the swamp be purchased as a refuge.The Atlantic and Gulf Railroad from Savannah was built a few miles north of the Okefenokee by the start of the Civil War (1861-65).Another railroad, from Brunswick to Albany, passed north of the swamp in 1870.Since 1937 most of the Okefenokee has been a National Wildlife Refuge.It was designated a National Wilderness Area in 1974.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.

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.

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.