I photographed this house in 2008. It remains but its appearance has been seriously modified. It was long owned by Cecil & Virginia Gibbs, by way of Mrs. Gibbs’s family, the Harrisons. Thanks to Randy Hortman and Nancy Ridley for confirming the identification.
Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve is one of the true natural wonders of South Georgia (all of Georgia, really). And about ten years ago, it was almost turned into a real estate development. It’s located just off US Highway 84 near Whigham and there’s no admission charge, though donations are accepted. A new sign at the entrance indicates the bloom time as being between late January and early March, though the lilies seem to almost always bloom in the middle of February. It’s essential to follow the Preserve’s Facebook page to get updates on the bloom time, as they can be quirky and sometimes bloom en masse and at other times be quite sporadic.
Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) are primarily an Appalachian species, favoring filtered sunlight on mountain slopes. So how did they end up here? Though there are a few anomalous populations in Southwest Georgia and North Florida, the Wolf Creek population is the largest in the world and thought to have appeared sometime during the last Ice Age.
If you came here and the Trout Lilies weren’t blooming, you’d still love this place. The gentle slope of the riparian forest makes for a good walk. I came this year about a week after the mass bloom and there were still quite a few scattered around the site.
Add to that the beautiful Spotted Trillium (Trillium maculatum) interspersed throughout and you basically have a mountain walk in deepest South Georgia.
The volunteer who greeted us at the entrance was so delightful and informative and we enjoyed talking with her. Grady County should be applauded for recognizing the importance of this resource and sharing it with the public. Instead of waiting for the state to recognize it and all the time that would take, Grady County took it upon themselves to promote and protect it. Highlighting important local resources like this isn’t just a win for the environment but a win for the local economy. We had lunch at a restaurant in Cairo, so yes, there is an economic impact, however small it may be.
Rattlesnake roundups are mostly a thing of the past, but I believe Whigham’s is still held each January. Jerod Maxwell writes: My Grandfather (Julian Maxwell) and his cousin (Herman Maxwell) started it inadvertently when they caught a couple of snakes and took them to the Whigham High School to show the science class the snakes in order to teach kids about them. That week at the Whigham town meeting eight men decided that they would hold a festival in order to raise money for the town and Grady County and to milk the snakes in order to make more anti-venom because many people were being bitten every year in our area. He notes that his Uncle Herman was at the meeting, but not his Grandfather, because he didn’t like politics. Most old farmers stayed a far away from politics as they could. I know my grandfather did.