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Tue, Oct 25, 2016 18:42
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River Thoughts

My daughter-in-law works for an import/export company in Savannah, GA.  She forwarded us a press release the other day announcing that the port of Savannah is the 3rd largest port in the USA.  I worked at the Savannah paper mill when it was Union Camp in the 70’s. The mill was right on the river so we could watch the big ships go by on their way to the port, which was upstream of the mill.

The most amazing thing about the Savannah River is that it has to be dredged to be deep enough for the big cargo ships.  From the bank, it doesn’t look wide enough for two big ships to pass but I guess they can.  The ships are under their own power, but they must be guided by tug boats.  That those little tugs can move the big ships remains a marvel.  It’s also hard to imagine enough ship traffic on the river to make it #3 in the country.

The paper mill used river water at the time for turbine generator condenser coolers.  These coolers required a very large volume of water, making river water the best choice.  This presented interesting problems because the mill elevation was only 13 ft.  So the river was tidal, that is approaching high tide, the river flowed backwards.  It was weird to watch the river flowing in the wrong direction.  Sometimes salt water could reach the mill location.  Silt was also a problem.

Today ships unload quite a ways from old downtown Savannah.  But originally the “River Street” area of downtown Savannah was where the ships docked and unloaded.  The storehouses and warehouses of the early years are now converted to shops and restaurants, making them a must see for tourists and residents alike.

Some may be thinking at this point that I should launch into a balance of trade discussion.  Unfortunately I have little influence in that issue and less knowledge.  With one exception that is.  The last pair of dress shoes I bought were not made in China.  They were in fact made in Brazil. I have since learned of companies that make shoes in the US.  Be warned however, they are not cheap.  In fact they are $300+, over twice my $125 budget.

I do in fact buy at least one other commodity that is USA made:  lead pencils for school. There.  The secret is out.  I doubt this reduces the tonnage through Savannah or impacts the balance of trade significantly.  But I’m trying.

Gene Canavan is retired and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA

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