How Ballast Stones Built River Street
Taking a stroll along River Street, it’s hard to miss the stones that everything seems to be built out of when you’re toppling back and forth. There’s hasty transitions from brick to ballast stone, cement to cobblestone. Even inside River Street Inn and other inns, restaurants and shops along the Savannah River, you can see (and feel) the unique building materials.
This is a result of the trade and trips between England and the New World in the 18th and 19th centuries. Much of the buildings and roads are
made out of ballast stones, which were carried across the Atlantic Ocean on ships filled with cotton. They were meant to weigh down and stabilize the ships as they made their voyage to North America.
When the ship arrived, they would dump the stones and bring back other goods from Georgia. Those stones were then repurposed and used to build streets, walls and warehouses along the Savannah River.
Savannah isn’t the only place that these ballast stones have been found and used—they appear all along the North Carolina coast and at several other sites. Some colonial cities even appointed a ballast master that regulated the activity of the stones so they weren’t dumped into the bay, blocking the harbors.
So next time you’re in Savannah, gazing at the beautiful historic hotels and homes around the city, take a few minutes to notice the repurposed materials all around the city!