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Historian to focus on river at Long chamber meeting
web 0907 Del Presley
Dr. Del Presley - photo by Photo provided.

Dr. Del Presley, a local historian, will be the keynote speaker Sept. 20 at the Long County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting. 

Presley will show a PowerPoint presentation and discuss the history and traditions of the Altamaha River at 7:30 p.m. at the Ludowici Church of God.

Presley also will talk about the 1986 Georgia Public Television documentary, “The Last Raft,” which he wrote.

The documentary depicts the adventures of 90-year-old raft pilot Bill Deen and his crew as they floated a pine log raft on a 150-mile journey from near Lumber City to the coast of Darien. The raft, 85 feet long and 30 feet wide, was similar to the ones used in the timber industry in years past. 

During the project, Deen journeyed through Appling, Toombs, McIntosh, Glynn, Wayne and Long counties. The crew now meets annually, and Beard’s Bluff in Long County is a featured site.

“This presentation promises to be very interesting and entertaining,” Long County chamber President Gaynell Garrison said. “Project RAFT was organized by Professor Presley and his colleagues at Georgia Southern in 1981 and 1982, and our program will include images of people and events that were taken at Beard’s Bluff and Jaycee Landing in April of 1982.”

Project RAFT is an acronym for “restoring Altamaha folk and tradition.” It focuses on the importance of the Altamaha River in state and national history.

“The chamber is encouraging all of its members and all interested citizens to come out for this presentation as we celebrate and look back at some of our area’s history,” Garrison said.

Presley is a professor at Georgia Southern University, where he has been teaching for 42 years. He has a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University and a Ph.D. from Emory University. At GSU, Presley is a professor of emeritus of English and museum director emeritus. 

He is the author of several books on American and southern literature, history and folklore. He currently is working on a book that focuses on the Altamaha River.

He and his wife, Beverly, have been married for 50 years. They have three children and four grandchildren.

For more information about the chamber meeting, email Garrison at

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