Georgia Travel Articles
Cumberland Island National Seashore
Cumberland Island National Seashore is located off the coast of Georgia near the mouth of the St. Marys River. Human occupation on the island began as early as 4,000 years ago. In 1566, the Spanish constructed Fort San Pedro on the island. Later, a Franciscan mission was established to convert the Timucuan Indians to Christianity. British occupation of the island began in 1736 when Gen. James E. Oglethorpe, founder of the English colony of Georgia, named the island "Cumberland" after the Duke of Cumberland. Early settlers Phineas Miller and his wife Catherine, widow of Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, constructed a manor house on the island in 1803 and named it "Dungeness". In 1818, General Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee died while a visitor in the house, which burned in the middle to the century. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the destiny of the island was shaped by the Carnegie family. In 1881, Thomas Morrison Carnegie and his wife Lucy acquired 4000 acres of Cumberland Island including the ruins of Dungeness. Mrs. Carnegie constructed several mansions for her family, including Greyfield, Stafford, and Plum Orchard. In 1972, the National Park Service procured most of the island for the establishment of a National Seashore. Cumberland Island National Seashore is north of the city of St. Marys. National Park Service visitor centers are located at the Sea Camp and Dungeness docks. A National Park Service passenger ferry provides access to the island from St. Marys, Georgia. For more information write or call: Cumberland Island National Seashore, P.O. Box 806, St. Marys, GA, 31558. (912) 882-4335. The Greyfield Inn, located on Cumberland Island, is a Historic Hotels of America member, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Cumberland Island Seashore includes several historic districts and sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places: The Dungeness Historic District encompasses historic resources from several periods including a prehistoric shell midden on which later mansions were constructed; a wharf, thought to be the site of the early Spanish mission of San Pedro, an historic cemetery, an early 19th century house constructed of tabby, a cement made of lime, water, and crushed oyster shells, and the ruins of Dungeness Mansion, constructed on the site of the earlier Miner residence. The Stafford Plantation Historic District includes the 1901 Stafford House, built for William Coleman Carnegie near the site of the Stafford plantation cemetery. Plum Orchard Historic District has a small cemetery; ruins of an early 19th century plantation home; and Plum Orchard Mansion, constructed in 1898 for George Lauder Carnegie and designed by Boston architects Peabody and Stearns. The High Point-Half Moon Bluff Historic District is associated with the African American experience from slaves to freedmen to property owners and the development of the Island as a resort area after the Civil War. The district is made up of two complexes of buildings located at the northern end of Cumberland Island. The first, Half Moon Bluff is a small village of simple wood frame buildings. Half Moon Bluff was settled by former slaves from plantations on Cumberland Island. As the land was divided over the years, African Americans continued to purchase parcels. Constructed in 1937, the First African Baptist Church of Cumberland Island is significant as a center of religious and educational life for the community. The High Point District was originally developed as a hotel and resort complex in 1880. Located in the district are an historic hotel and accompanying outbuildings. The two areas have been historically linked through economic need -- the village of Half Moon Bluff provided the hotel complex at High Point with labor.
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