Message In A Bottle Found On Satilla River

It took 39 years before someone made this very unique discovery inside a Pepsi bottle.

Craig James | September 28, 2021

On Labor Day afternoon, Will Smith and good friend Tyler Powell, both from Patterson, made the decision to knock off work early and head to the Satilla River for a relaxing afternoon of fishing. Little did they know, it would soon be a trip they would never forget. 

“Work was slow with it being Labor Day and all, so we dipped out early and headed to the FFA Landing on the Satilla River,” said Will.

After launching the boat, the fisherman headed upriver, targeting panfish in sloughs as they went.

“The river was high, and the bite was tough. That had us out pitching crickets in the flooded sloughs, trying to find some fish,” said Will.

While getting ready to pitch to the next stump along the bank, something caught Will’s eye as it bobbed up and down steadily in the water next to a fallen log.

“I got a little closer and I could see an old glass bottle with a napkin inside. I told Tyler, ‘Look it’s a message in a bottle,’ laughing as I said it. I grabbed it out of the water and put it down in the boat and really didn’t think too much more of it until later when we loaded up the boat and decided to take a look at what was inside,” Will said.

Inside the old, weathered glass Pepsi bottle was a napkin folded up with the name Lewis Hall and an address from Fitzgerald handwritten and dated Feb. 7, 1982.

“Well at that point we were really excited about it. We wondered if we would ever be able to track down Mr. Hall, and if he was still living in the area,” Will said. 

After posting it on Facebook, it didn’t take long for Mr. Hall’s daughter to reach out to Will about the bottle and the note.

“She told me her dad was a retired railroader 86 years young, and that he used to work between Fitzgerald and Waycross. She said she would get me in touch with her dad, who was now living on St. Simon’s Island, so we could talk more about the note.”

After talking a little while with Mr Hall on the phone, the pair agreed to meet up so Will could return the bottle and note to its original owner.

On Sept. 17, Mr. Hall met up with Will and Tyler in Brunswick where they were working.

“Mr. Lewis is a great man,” said Will. “We spent a good half hour or so talking about the message in the bottle and going down memory lane. He said he was a conductor with the railroad and one day while crossing over the river just outside of Waycross at the Jamestown Trussle, he threw the bottle and note out the window and into the river just to see if anyone would find it.”

The story now ends 39 years later and 35 miles down the river, but Will found placed the bottle and the note back into its owner’s hands.

“How it made it to me all these years later is a mystery, but I’m sure glad it did. It’s been a great experience I won’t forget,” said Will.

After talking a while, the gentlemen parted ways as newfound friends, all linked by a single glass Pepsi bottle and a note from 1982.

United over a Pepsi bottle and a note from 1982 are (from left) Tyler Powell, Mr. Hall and Will Smith.

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