A Fascinating Canal Tour & Museum in Augusta, Georgia
On your way through Georgia? Consider stopping for a few days to check out Augusta! Our family spent a few weeks camping there last month while helping with disaster relief cleanup efforts after ice storms crippled the area. While we were there, we found so much new to see and do! Augusta has an incredibly diverse downtown area, with lots of family friendly destinations within a few blocks.
One of our favorites, was the Augusta Canal Petersburg Boat Tour and Discovery Center.
Originally built in 1854 to provide hydro power for the textile mills that were a vital part of the economic growth of Augusta, the canal still provides hydro power; the Enterprise Mill building, which now houses the canal museum (Discovery Center) as well as numerous other offices, produces all of it’s own power and sells surplus to the electric company thanks to harnessing the canal water force. Our day there started with a 45 minute guided tour of the Augusta Canal in a Petersburg boat. On the tour, our guide pointed out the many animals and birds that call the canal home (take your binos!), still standing textile mills, “shotgun” tenant houses that were built to house mill workers, and even the massive and beautiful 150 foot tall chimney that is the only remnant of a once 2 mile long, 28 building strong, Confederate Powder Works – the only buildings to ever be built by the Confederate States of America.
The tour provided a fabulous overview of the history of Augusta.
There are numerous tours available, including a “Civil War” tour that focuses on the area’s role, in the Civil War, as the main supplier of ammunition for the Confederate States.
After our tour was over, we spent some time exploring the Augusta Canal Discovery Center. Great for all ages, the canal museum had fun hands-on activities, including some that mom liked too. The center provides great exhibits that further explain the textile trade in the 1800s, and how the industry changed the way of life in northern Georgia.
The kids enjoyed seeing if they would make the cut as a duffer (reloading bobbins, a job often given to children as young as 8), watching 3-D slides of the times, cranking wheels to see how a generator generates power, even pumping water to make a water wheel turn and provide hydro power.
Planning your visit? The Augusta Canal
tour runs 45 to 50 minutes, and the Discovery Center takes about 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on your interest level. There is a lovely gift shop in the center, and the courtyard outside is a great place for a picnic, or to eat after visiting the fun eateries just yards away.
The downtown Augusta area is fascinating, and offers a full day of exploration (including the Canal). And nearby Thurman lake makes for a great family camping destination!