Uncategorized acetyl-salicylic acid, Archaeology, aspirin, Black Willow, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida History, Florida Public Archaeology Network, medicine, Native Americans, North Florida, plant, red root, salicin, Salix caroliniana, Salix nigra, semi-synthetic drug, Southeast, Southeastern Indian, Willow
Description: Shrubby or tree to 30ft.(caroliniana).Tree to 100 ft. or more (nigra), trunks often leaning. Leaves finely sharp toothed to 6 inches, pointed. Male and female flowers on separate trees, with drooping catkins about 2 inches long.
Black willow (Salix nigra) in early fall.
All parts of the willow plant contain salicin, a precursor to acetyl-salicylic acid (aspirin). Metabolic action in the liver, kidneys, and intestines converts plant compounds to aspirin after consumption. This metabolic action of the plants compounds actually creates an aspirin tailor fitted to the metabolism and body chemistry of the person ingesting it. The medicine that the Muskogee Indians create using this plant is a liquid called Mikko Hoyvniche, which when translated means, “King Passing Through”. This illustrates the importance of this medicine in the Southeastern Indian spirituality. It is used both as a medicine to cure aches and pains as well as used in ceremonies. Historically important to Native Americans of the southeast, the willow continues to be held in high regard by traditional people of native descent. Old-timers may call it “red root”.
Many types of willow are currently used in the production of aspirin. Aspirin is the most widely available semi-synthetic drug in the world. Black willow (Salix nigra) is the most common type found throughout North Florida.
Early aspirin bottle. Aspirin is still made using compounds from the willow plant.
Uncategorized archaeological sites, Archaeologist, Archaeology, Artifacts, Aucilla River, canal construction, canoe, challenge, Civil War, Cotton, cotton barges, Cotton Merchant, deadfalls, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida History, florida public archaeology netowrk, Goose Pasture, gulf of mexico, History, intermediate paddle, John Gamble, Kayak, Native Americans, nature, North Florida, paddling, Plantation, Slave, Slave Canal, Southeast, Tourism, Wacissa River
This past weekend, like I mentioned in my previous post, I had the opportunity to paddle the Wacissa River and the Slave Canal. It was something I had heard about and have wanted to do for awhile now, but something always came up that took priority to a day of kayaking (very unfortunate, I know!). Well, my brief encounter with the beautiful waters of the Wacissa and the historic setting of the Slave Canal has left me wanting more!
|Slave Canal Entrance from the Wacissa River
Now, you are probably wandering what the Slave Canal is and why it is named such. The Slave Canal was constructed in the 1850s using slave labor. John Gamble, a nearby plantation owner decided it would be a benificial project for local cotton merchants. The purpose of the canal was to connect the Wacissa River to the nearby Aucilla River so that cotton barges could be floated to the Gulf. You see, the Wacissa River diffuses into an almost impenetrable swamp, impossible for cotton barges to pass through to get to the Gulf of Mexico so that the cotton could be loaded on to larger ships for export. Unfortunately for the cotton merchants, the canal scheme did not work very well-it was too shallow. In some places the canal never reached more than a foot deep, and the canal was never able to be used by large boats. Shortly after the Civil War the canal was abandoned.
|Signage for Slave Canal
Luckily for us adventurous types, the canal remains open today as a premier three mile paddling trail connecting the Aucilla and Wacissa Rivers-that is, if you can find it. The entrance to the canal can be a bit tricky to find (there are signs though, so keep an eye out). Once you do find it though, you are in for a treat. The deadfalls and swift current at high water create a somewhat challenging, but delightful paddling trip. The Slave Canal is part of the Wacissa River Paddling Trail. According to the trail guide it is an intermediate paddle. I only had a chance to kayak a small portion of the canal, but I already have plans in the works to kayak the whole thing. Paddling is a wonderful way to experience, not only nature, but history as well. There is no documentation of who the slaves were that constructed the canal, but kayaking the canal somehow brings to light the challenges that they must have faced.
In addition to the history of the Slave Canal, don’t forget about the people that made their homes on these waterways long before the canal’s construction. The wonderful thing about the Wacissa and Slave Canal is that there are no houses or buildings visible from the river starting from Goose Pasture (where I launched ) to the Slave Canal. It is almost as if you are kayaking into a time long, long ago. You can almost imagine people paddling in dugout canoes along this stretch of remote wilderness. And remember, you may encounter archaeological sites along these waterways, you can look, but don’t touch. Leave any artifacts you might encounter where they are so that the next visitor can enjoy looking at them (and not picking them up) and so that archaeologists in the future can have the opportunity to study them and learn about the people that lived along these rivers in Florida’s past. Hopefully my future plans for kayaking the whole canal will come to fruition soon, and of course, I will tell you all about it!