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The self-sufficient lifestyle of these settlers continued until the early twentieth century.Sailing vessels visited Traders Hill, fewer than ten miles outside the Okefenokee, by the first decade of the nineteenth century, and steamboats regularly traveled the St. Outside of these developments, there was little change in the Okefenokee landscape or livelihood until the railroads reached the rim of the great swamp in the 1860s.Steam transformed both the Okefenokee culture and the landscape after 1880.By 1900 the old-growth longleaf pine forest that encircled the swamp was a forest of stumps.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 Swamp covers nearly 700 square miles, almost all of which is in Georgia.

The company attempted to drain the swamp from 1891 until 1893.

Learning from the mistakes of the Suwanee Canal Company, the Hebard Lumber Company carefully studied the timber of the swamp and decided to employ railroads to harvest cypress.

They leased the property to the Hebard Cypress Company, which built a large sawmill near Waycross and constructed a railroad to the northwestern rim of the swamp in 1909-10.

A caretaker named Billy Spaulding lived in a hut on the island.

During this period writers and naturalists were also permitted to camp in the cabin on Floyds Island Hammock.