There are three main entrances to the Okefenokee and each is a gateway to a mysterious and beautiful region that is rich in both natural and cultural history. Stephen C. Foster State Park near Fargo serves as the western gate, Suwannee Canal Recreation Area near Folkston is the eastern and Okefenokee Swamp Park near Waycross is the northern.
The origins of the word "Okefenokee" are as mysterious as the big swamp itself. One long popular legend holds that the name is a Creek Indian word meaning "Land of the Trembling Earth." There is probably a lot of truth to the legend. In the Hitchiti language of the Lower Creeks, the word Econfinoka translates literally to "trembling earth." Econfinoka sounds very similar to Okefenokee when pronounced out loud.
|"Land of the Trembling Earth"|
Hawkins paraphrased the chief in his journal:
|Alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp|
The "tygers" referred to in the chief's account were panthers.
The chief's description of how the "whole earth trembled under them" is based on reality. The Okefenokee Swamp is formed in a vast shallow bowl, the bottom of which has accumulated layers of peat over the centuries. Trees take root in this peat bog and it is actually possible to make them shake by jumping up on the ground.
To learn more about the Okefenokee, please visit our new Okefenokee Swamp section at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/okefenokee.