Where in the World is this turpentine still? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Where in the World is this turpentine still?

August 2, 2002

At 81, George McCranie can hardly budge an old turpentine barrel. But in the late 1930's, he and his bothers could maneuver the 300 to 500 pound pots of gum.

That is how the McCranie brothers spent their days growing up. "I started here when I was 13." Shasta was the baby then. But he too was helping to cash in on their father's promise. "Dad said it would put us through college."

You see, dad didn't have money for school. So he told the boys if they stuck together the plan would work. "If you have one stick it will break. Two is a bit harder. Three is tough, so he said for us to stay together and work."

So workers gather quarts of gum from the pines. Quarts filled pails which then filled barrels. Those barrels were rolled up to the kettle and poured in. By boiling the gum and condensing the vapor though this copper coil, raw turpentine is produced.

The left over by product was resin. "For 20 barrels, we got $12." And one by one, each of the brothers got to go to college, and now the still itself has become an education for visitors.

"This is the last still that is on it's original site," George says. And the brothers, after working together for 45 years, are still learning something new about each other.

It is the history of Georgia, the history of turpentine, and the history of brothers who banded together to hit the books and then return home to the town of Willacoochee.

All three brothers graduated from Gordon Military College in Barnesville, Georgia. Their still, which they built in 1936, is on Highway 82 in Willacoochee, in Atkinson County.

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