Hutchinson Island (Georgia)

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Hutchinson Island, Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
County Chatham County

Hutchinson Island is a river island in the Savannah River, north of downtown Savannah in Chatham County, Georgia, United States. The island is formed where the Back River breaks off to the north from the Savannah River. Historically, Hutchinson Island's land use has been primarily industrial, much of which supported the Port of Savannah, one of the busiest containerization cargo ports in the world.[1] The island is roughly 7 miles long and 1 mile wide at its widest point.

History[edit]

Hutchinson Island also played a major role in the capture of Savannah during the American Civil War. After capturing Atlanta, Georgia, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman turned his army East, toward the Atlantic Ocean, and arrived in Savannah in December 1864. Rather than destroying Savannah, Sherman elected to demand the city's surrender. Confederate Gen. William J. Hardee led his troops, under cover of darkness, across the Savannah River on a makeshift pontoon bridge, across Hutchinson Island and into the South Carolina wilderness.[2]

On the Back River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formerly maintained a tidal control system that slowed the natural filling in of the main river's shipping channel. The tide gate was abandoned after studies showed that it had increased saltwater intrusion into the upriver freshwater Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.[3]

Facilities[edit]

The Westin Savannah

Totaling approximately 2,000 acres (8.1 km2), Hutchinson Island was targeted as the site for a public-private partnership to build a convention center and hotel.[4] Chatham County voters approved spending $63 million in public special-purpose local-option sales tax money for the trade center and $10 million for the road system on the island. The Savannah International Trade and Convention Center and the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort were built.[5][6] In addition, the state of Georgia provided $18 million, and former land owner CSX railroad donated 25 acres (100,000 m2) for the public trade center.[6]

Public monies also helped build a sanctioned Champ Car-style road race track, and sanctioned Indy Lights races were organized.[7] The track closed, but has recently been reworked and reopened.[8]

One of the first events to use the reopened Hutchinson Island track was the Savannah Speed Classic, a part of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d'Elegance, taking place the last weekend of October (in Savannah) through the first weekend in November (in Hilton Head Island) each year. [9]

While much of Hutchinson Island has been trade convention and resort-oriented in the past, the island's first residential community is under way, The Reserve at Savannah Harbor, and plans are being drawn to develop the riverfront into a mixed-use, urban extension of Savannah.[10]

The Georgia Ports Authority and International Paper still own undeveloped tracts of land on the far west end of Hutchinson Island.[6]

Access[edit]

Ferry boats take visitors and residents across the Savannah River on a regular, daily schedule. The island can also be accessed by car, from the south via the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, and from the north, in South Carolina, via U.S. Highway 17.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Georgia Ports Authority". 
  2. ^ "The Fortresses of Savannah by Jim Byous". 
  3. ^ "New Georgia Encyclopia". 
  4. ^ "404 Not found". 
  5. ^ "Savannah Trade Center". 
  6. ^ a b c "404". 
  7. ^ "SEC Filiing". 
  8. ^ "Savannah Now". 
  9. ^ "Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival". 
  10. ^ "Reserve at Savannah Harbor". 

Coordinates: 32°05′54″N 81°06′10″W / 32.09833°N 81.10278°W / 32.09833; -81.10278