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A railroad from Valdosta to Jacksonville was completed in 1898, closing the ring of railroad tracks around the swamp.
Industrialization brought jobs at sawmills, turpentine stills, and on the railroads.
The self-sufficient lifestyle of these settlers continued until the early twentieth century.
Settlers moved into the areas east, north, and west of the swamp after the land lottery of 1820.Many articles extolling the wonders of the Okefenokee wilderness were published in newspapers, magazines, and books.A number of writers urged that the swamp be purchased as a refuge.The Okefenokee Society was organized in 1918 in Waycross. The Georgia Society of Naturalists took up the crusade in 1929.Members of the society petitioned the federal government to purchase the Hebard property as a biological preserve, but the society died with its founder, J. Their efforts, supported by other organizations and individuals, were successful.