Sunday, August 3, 2014

Plantation Parkway ~ Part 1

When time permits my husband and I very much enjoy the scenic drive from Tallahassee up to Thomasville, Georgia.  I love to take my camera and try to capture some of the natural beauty all along Highway 319 north.

Most of this area,  on both sides of the four-lane highway,  is what is called the Red Hills Region.  It is a lovely area with gently rolling hillsides covered in beautiful old native trees including the exquisite Southern Live Oaks and Water Oak, Laurel Oak, White Oak, Black Oak, Sweetgum, Magnolias, Hickory, Dogwoods, Short-leaf and Long-leaf Pines.

 Red Hills Map from Wikipedia

This area is also considered a large plantation belt.  From what I can find out, there are about 80 privately owned plantations all along the route, encompassing approximately 300,000 acres.

Most of the land, which stretches for 35 miles into Thomasville, Georgia,  has remained in this natural state for decades.

This is an appropriate name for this stretch of Highway 319 
from Tallahassee, Florida  to Thomasville, Georgia
Plantation Parkway

Shortly after turning on to Highway 319 and driving a couple of miles north,  we see the first plantation along this route.  Unfortunately,  since most of the plantations are privately owned, we just have to use our imaginations as to what is beyond the gate.

While trying to find out more information about Horseshoe Plantation, I discovered all of this property is currently for sale.  If you happen to have a spare $5.175 Million saved in your cookie jar, all of this 2,119-acre property could be yours.

According to what I can find out,  all of this land was owned by the same family for over 150 years.  Then,  a few years ago, it was was sold and used as a privately run hunting plantation,  as most of the plantations are in this area.

What a pretty gate!

Peeking through the gate with my camera we can see the road just beyond.

The below photo shows the main house on the property, which is in the shape of a horseshoe.
Photo from the Internet

In the below photo,  just outside the gates of Horseshoe Plantation 
we see this large old Oak Tree with lots of Spanish Moss.

In the 1800's many of these plantations began as cotton plantations
 and they thrived until the Civil War.  

At one time, this area was the 5th largest producer of cotton among all counties in Georgia and Florida.  After the Civil War, many of the Red Hills' plantations became winter homes and quail hunting plantations for wealthy northerners.

The area between Tallahassee and Thomasville is still home to dozens of such plantations.

Driving on north,  for about ten minutes,  we come to another very large plantation called Cherokee.

The gates to Cherokee Plantation were wide open which said to us "come on in," which we did!

Cherokee Plantation is a 7000-acre quail and hunting property dating back to the early 1900's.  Cherokee remains one of the top hunting properties in the Red Hills Region, along with excellent dove, duck and turkey hunting.

We were so curious as to what lay beyond these open gates.

Driving along the roadway we spotted several charming Florida cracker-type houses as in the below photo.

We have heard that workers on these plantations, including many African-Americans whose families have lived on the land since the days of slavery,  maintain the plantations during the summer months and help with hunting parties during quail season, which runs from November 17 to March 1.

As we drove along,  we never did see what would be called the "main house," 
 but we did see a good bit of the plantation area.

It was so picturesque to see this beautiful stretch of horse pasture.

    We stopped the car and walked up to the fence in hopes of enticing
these horses to come say "hello."

After awhile they did become curious and came to see us, but not too close!  This exquisite horse with the beautiful flowing blonde mane would not come closer, but we did at least get to say "hello," and he was very curious about us. 

I did so much want to get better photos of him, hopefully showing his beautiful blonde mane, but he did not seem interested in posing for pictures.

Isn't he beautiful!

And, his friend came to say "hello" also.  What a beautiful,
healthy-looking and well-cared for creature he is!

In the background in the above and below photos, there are several buildings which looked like they might be the backbone of this working plantation.  There were roads leading up to those areas, but we already felt like we were trespassing so we did not travel down those side roads.

Driving on down the Cherokee Plantation Road we passed this pretty house.

It was a beautiful drive on down this old dirt road on the plantation.

After driving for a few miles on this pretty dirt road
we headed back to the main highway to continue on our way.

Back on the highway,  in the median,  between the four-lanes of roadway,  we spotted this beautiful collection of trees.  These beautiful old trees all along the way make this drive so picturesque.   These trees have probably been here for several hundred years.

Next,  we will continue our drive north into the scenic and historic Foshalee Plantation area,  which was owned by Kate Ireland.

Join us next time as we continue on our route north on Highway 319 and see more of the beautiful plantations along the way.

Wishing you a happy beginning of August wherever you may be.

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