From 1773 to 1777, naturalist William Bartram journeyed through the American South from the Carolinas to Florida to the Mississippi River. Bartram's classic account, Travels, documents what he saw: a world of flora, fauna, cultures, and terrains unknown to most readers of his time - and, we too often assume, lost to us today. An Outdoor Guide to Bartram's Travels reconstructs as closely as possible the original routes Bartram took. Featuring some fifty thoroughly tested and researched tours, the guide takes today's outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs along Bartram's path through what were once colonial towns and outposts, native kingdoms, and unspoiled wilderness. Some tours can be taken by car or bicycle; others can be taken only as Bartram himself would have traveled - by foot, canoe, or horseback. The tours are supplemented with more than 140 maps and photographs as well as informative sidebars and listings of nearby points of interest. As the guide points out details of both the natural and manmade environments to be seen along each tour, it imparts an understanding of the forces at work on the landscape.
Visitors to Paynes Prairie in north central Florida, for instance, are urged to notice not only networks of manmade dikes built in the last century but also evidence of current efforts to dismantle them and let the wetlands again manage itself. At one level, the guide is an invitation into the past, to travel along with Bartram as he visits the lands of the American colonists, the Creek, the Seminole, and the Cherokee - all on the eve of the American Revolution. At another level, it is an invitation to the present: to see how some parts of the American Southeast have changed in the last two centuries while others have survived in all their wild splendor. From the mountain grandeur of the Blue Ridge to the coastal beauty of Cumberland Island, from the urbane gardens of Charleston to the False River plantations near the Mississippi River, the present answers the past in An Outdoor Guide to Bartram's Travels.