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A rural Georgia experience: Turpentine still at ABAC's GMA

By Loren Lindler

Summer is here, the kids are out of school, and fun opportunities in rural Georgia are endless. If you're looking for your next adventure, we've got you covered - in turpentine.

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College's Georgia Museum of Agriculture is firing up their turpentine still on Saturday, July 24 for an experience like no other. Forestry has been a booming business in Georgia for centuries, so consider this the perfect way to see how forestry planted its roots in the state.

The turpentining, or naval stores, industry came to the wiregrass region of Georgia in the early 1870s. This industry moved to the region (known for its longleaf pines) from the piney woods area of North Carolina, where the best timber had been worked out (the trees were no longer useful for turpentining). The work of turpentining started in the woods, where crews of men worked year-round under the supervision of a foreman, called a woodsrider, to collect the gum (or sap) used to make turpentine and rosin.

The Turpentine Still components located at the GMA were donated by Beverly and Lonnie H. Pope, while other pieces of equipment and still parts were donated by generous people throughout Georgia, Florida, and Virginia.

This turpentine still is typical of the stills in the 1890s. The resin or "gum," collected from pine trees, was processed through stills to create turpentine (the oil) and rosin (the amber colored solid). Both products were sold at market in Savannah or Brunswick, Georgia.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity for your kiddos or yourself, the Georgia Museum of Agriculture is the perfect place to learn about rural Georgia's history. Take a glimpse into the innovative and storied history of the Wiregrass region of Southern Georgia through hands-on learning experiences and a sweeping landscape of historic sites and artifacts.

Admission for the event is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for children ages 5-16, and is free for children under 4. The turpentine still, along with the other attractions throughout the Museum and Historic Village, will be open between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Check out their website to learn more about the event, as well as other events they have going on this summer.


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