"Thunderbolt -Causton Bluff On the Wilmington River" Thunderbolt by grandmaR

Thunderbolt Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 41 photos

Information on Thunderbolt

Population (year 2000): 2,340
Males: 1,107 (47.3%), Females: 1,233 (52.7%)
Elevation: 20 feet
County: Chatham
Land area: 1.3 square miles
Zip code: 31404

Nearest city with pop. 50,000+: Savannah, GA (3.8 miles, pop. 131,510).

Nearest cities: Whitemarsh Island, GA (3.1 miles), Isle of Hope, GA (3.4 miles), Savannah, GA (3.8 miles), Wilmington Island, GA (5.6 miles), Montgomery, GA (7.2 miles), Skidaway Island, GA (7.3 miles), Garden City, GA (9.1 miles), Port Wentworth, GA (12.7 miles).

Area code commonly used in this area: 912

Led by General James Oglethorpe, a variety of colonists settled in Savannah in 1733. Though the major settlement in Georgia was to be Savannah, Oglethorpe developed numerous smaller settlements in an "agrarian-military outpost scheme to protect the settlement of Savannah from the Spanish".

Along with Thunderbolt which was on a bluff overlooking the Wilmington River, these outposts included Hampstead, Highgate, Abercorn, Acton and Josephs Town.The majority of these small settlements disappeared after a short period due to poor agricultural conditions. However, Thunderbolt was on the inland water route which led from Savannah south to St. Simons Island and Spanish Florida. Early detection of intruders by these outposts could provide Savannah residents with the necessary time to prepare themselves for defense.

According to Oglethorpe, the town was named after "a rock which was here shattered by a thunderbolt, causing a spring to gush from the ground, which continued ever afterward to emit the odor of brimstone."

In 1778, the British captured Savannah without much opposition, but Thunderbolt remained in patriot hands. It served as a place for the French Charles-Henri Comte d'Estaing base of operations and afterwards as a hospital location for the wounded. The attack of the French and American on the British, the Siege of Savannah, lasted only about one hour, occurring along the western boundary of the city, and was a failure. The French lost one-hundred and fifty men and three-hundred and seventy were wounded. The American casualties were tallied at two-hundred and thirty killed or wounded, while the British lost only eighteen with forty wounded. The Battle of Bunker Hill was the only military conflict in the American Revolutionary War to exceed the combined casualties at the Siege of Savannah. The liberation of Savannah would not occur for another two and half years on 11 July 1782, after the British surrendered at Yorktown on 19 October 1781.

In the Civil War, the Thunderbolt Battery was instrumental in the defense of Savannah. Thunderbolt never fell to the enemy, and increased armament and river obstructions kept the Union forces from landing. It was the advance of Union troops on Fort McAllister by land that led to the evacuation of Savannah and Thunderbolt Battery. Nothing remains of the Thunderbolt Battery today due to a combination of initial neglect and commercial and industrial development.

After the turn of the century, Thunderbolt became a shrimping center.

We've stopped in Thunderbolt four times. On our first trip December 12, 2000 we anchored in the Herb River on a miserable cold rainy day.

The other times (March 26,2001, November 18, 2001 and March 25, 2002), we've always gone to Palmer Johnson marina (which is now called Thunderbolt Marina I understand). Palmer Johnson manufactures luxury mega-yachts, and this is a repair yard for them. It is located on the grounds of a casino, built in 1875 which became one of the most popular recreation spots in the Savannah area until it burned in 1930.

River Road, which follows the banks of the Wilmington River between Bonaventure Cemetery and Thunderbolt, is a scenic route on the southern side of US 80 (Victory Drive) that features the marsh, yachts, shrimp boats, and marina toward the water and some locally famous restaurants on the other side. Locals appreciate their Live Oaks enough to build their road around a huge one as you enter the town.

Many believe Bonaventure is the most beautiful cemetery in the world. The attractive plants, sweet smells, and beautiful views of the Wilmington River make for a peaceful final resting site?and a tranquil site to visit. Recently, it has received worldwide fame from being featured on the cover and in the text of writer John Berendt's hugely popular bestseller "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".

March 25, 2002

Palmer Johnson does the dockage on a face dock and insists that our boat is 50 feet (which when I measure it, I discover to my chagrin that it is). The restaurant there that we like has closed and the dockmaster says the building is unsafe. So we have to walk up to Teeples (which looks like a greasy spoon) or Tubby's with a bathtub on the roof. Not too far.

Next Beaufort SC

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  • In a nutshell:Suburb of Savannah
  • Last visit to Thunderbolt: Mar 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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