Case Study: Pipemaker’s Canal, Chatham County
In 2006, Chatham County Engineering Department proposed improvements to Pipemakers Canal that included doubling the width, dredging and slope work and the addition of maintenance roads. In consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, HPD entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chatham County to mitigate the adverse effects that would result from this work. One of the mitigation measures was preparation of a written report concerning the history and development of Pipemakers Canal. Ellen I. Harris of the Metropolitan Planning Commission, Savannah for Chatham County Department of Engineering prepared this document entitled A Developmental History of Pipemakers Canal, Chatham County, Georgia. The report is very informative and contains key general background material as well as site-specific documentation. For example, while we originally thought the canals were primarily for development, it turns out that the major impetus was public health, with development following. Also, some of these canals were the result of one of the largest Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects in the state. Pipemakers Creek/Swamp was fully converted into a canal by 1930 and as suburbanization spread across Chatham County after World War II, the canal system was maintained and utilized to drain wet areas to build new subdivisions and accommodate new development.
The report illustrates just how important this network of non-transportation canals was in the history of Savannah, providing drainage for prevention of disease, for agricultural cultivation and for land development. In addition, it is a valuable tool in understanding a historic resource that is being altered both directly and indirectly as a result of modern development.
- June 2009