50th Anniversary Golden Nugget: Oakridge Section

From V.E. Kelly's A Short History of Skidaway Island
Compiled by 50th Anniversary Communications Subcommittee Chair Maryce Cunningham

The Oakridge area of The Landings openedin 1987. It consisted of 644 acres on the west side of Skidaway Island, along the Skidaway Narrows south of Diamond Causeway. Just as had been done before the east side of the island was developed, Branigar arranged to have an archaeological survey made in Oakridge to ascertain if there were archeologically or historically significant areas that should be preserved. Although many pottery sherds and in two instances human infant bones were found, the only spot which seemed worthy of preserving was the cemetery enclosed in tabby walls on the west side of #15 hole on the Oakridge golf course. Graves in the cemetery were from the early 19th century. There also were two or three sites where Artesian wells were located at one time. These were probably free-flowing, much like many other wells south of Savannah earlier in this century.

In the archaeological report were several maps, which were interesting in that they showed places where bootleg liquor stills had apparently been operated. Prohibition in Savannah began in 1908. During Prohibition days, Skidaway Island, being relatively isolated, sparsely inhabited and with plenty of thick wooded areas, became a prime spot for the manufacture of bootleg whiskey. Stills were operated at many island locations. An article in the Savannah Morning News on July 21, 1925, refered to Skidaway as “a veritable nest of moonshine stills”. The article went on to read that law enforcement agents had “swooped down on the salt water region Saturday and destroyed three stills in operation of a capacity of 210 gallons and another across the Island of 125 gallon capacity.” Generally, the bootleggers who operated the stills were scurrilous characters. They guarded the locations of their stills and didn’t hesitate to shoot at anyone who ventured too close, innocently or not.

The Oakridge area was earlier called Log Landing, since at one time a saw mill operated there and logs were loaded on barges at a spot on the Skidaway River. Branigar planners thought of Log Landing as not being suggestive of the serenity they wanted the name of this phase to connote, so they decided to call it Oakridge, in spite of the fact that there seems to be no ridge and precious few oaks.