Savannah was the export center for cotton to the world. Huge buildings line the waterfront that were at one time the cotton warehouses. If ships coming in from other ports around the world were coming in without imported cargo, they would arrive in ballast. This means the empty holds of the square-riggers would be filled with rock, quarry stone, fired brick, or any such material from Europe and elsewhere to keep the ships stable enough to carry their thousands of square feet of sail. This would be removed before loading the cotton, and it would be used for local construction from streets, retaining walls, warehouses, and so on. You can look at a wall and see it transform from one material to another, depending upon the type of ballast stone being carried in the inbound ships. A good example of this is the Factor’s Walk.
Wagons would carry the bales of cotton down to the wharf for loading, and the factors, or representatives of foreign buyers, would line up on the iron walkways above the wagons, and record the lot numbers of bales they wished to bid on depending on how clean or free of seed it was. We later had lunch at the Cotton Exchange Tavern, one of many current businesses that use the old cotton warehouses. Even here you can clearly see the use of brick and ballast stone, and the iron pintles on which the huge warehouse doors were hinged.