Riceboro’s Historical Baptismal Interpretive Trail is a few steps closer to completion.
On Friday, construction workers with Expert Marine Construction Company put the finishing touches on a 12-by-12 wooden platform above a secluded pool of water where, it is said, some Riceboro natives were baptized as early as the late 1800s.
“This bridge sits on the city’s property in a position to view the original baptismal site. It has stairs on both sides leading down to the knoll,” said Keith Causeway, an engineer with P.C. Simonton and Associates Inc.
The 105-foot bridge, according to Causeway, will be part of a quarter-mile trail that runs north from state Route 119, E.B. Cooper Highway, just a few feet from Riceboro’s First African Baptist Church.
Once it’s complete, the trail will include historical information and a few surprises, according to Riceboro Mayor Bill Austin and City Grants Administrator Joe Harris.
“This is still an ongoing project,” Harris said. “The objective for the trail, once complete, will be to beautify this area with natural flora and include historical markers and signage.”
The site also will honor those who were baptized in the pool’s muddy water years ago.
“The signage will include a list of names of those who we know were baptized here,” Austin said. “This, of course, will include a tribute to Mother Mary Baggs and Dorothy Brunson. Brunson is now 102 years old and the only surviving person who was baptized there.”
The trail is expected to be open to the public by December, Austin said. So far, he said, he’s pleased with its progress.
“What’s incredible is the amount of collaboration we have had, and we expect it to continue,” the mayor said.
“P.C. Simonton and Associates Inc. has provided engineering support for the design of the trail. SNF Holding Co. and CIC cleared and built up the trail path, and the Progressive Missionary Association put together a team of 30 men to work with the city of Riceboro to clear the underbrush.”
Cultivation for the project began last spring after the city was awarded a matching in-kind coastal incentive grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for $42,000.
Austin said he’s hopeful the trail eventually will lead deeper into the city’s grounds and history.
“We have already begun planning the next phase of the project, which will lead to a beautiful fishing area known as the ‘round hole,’” he said. “The expansion of the trail site will also cover an area that was used by loggers who stood atop the berms to snake the logs along the creek to the mill at Riceboro.”