The Union Camp Era
In 1937, Palmetto Bluff came to the attention of Union Bag Company for its significant timber reserves. The paper company was headquartered in New Jersey, but its largest mill was in Savannah and the proximity of 20,000 acres of pine and hardwood resources was attractive, to say the least. Union purchased the property and set about planning a comprehensive forestry program.
As company officials spent more and more time at Palmetto Bluff it became obvious that the asset they now controlled was far more than just a tree farm. The 32 miles of riverfront and spectacular maritime forest would have a higher and better use someday, and the company created a conservation-based Land Use Plan to protect this fragile environment. To this day, Palmetto Bluff’s pristine natural beauty can be traced to the early land stewardship of Union Bag. (In the early 1970s, Union acquired the Camp Paper Company of Virginia, and the merged companies, logically, became known as Union Camp.)
In addition to the natural beauty of the Palmetto Bluff site, company officials soon recognized that another asset was at their feet: teeming populations of deer, ducks, turkeys and wild boar, as well as fabulous fishing, both in the freshwater ponds and the river itself. It didn’t take much imagination to see that Palmetto Bluff could become a sportsman’s paradise. In addition to hunting for quail, ducks, turkeys, boar and deer, there were facilities for skeet and trap, sporting clays, and riflery, as well as guided nature tours.
Today, more than half a century after its original inception, the memory of the Lodge and the “Union Camp Years” occupies a prominent place in the history of this fabled property. Certainly, to the tens of thousands who enjoyed the sporting life here – or simply good food and companionship in communion with nature – its memory will live on.