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St. Marys, GA

Summary of activities:

Ferry boat ride

Van tour



Our National Park ferry boat awaits us! No silly, it's the bigger one in the back.
Not long into our van tour we encounter our first wild horse. It took us several minutes and a few beeps of the horn before he moved out of our way.
This is one of the original buildings located at the northern end of Cumberland Island. The area is known simply as "The Settlement".
This is The First African Baptist Church which is located inside The Settlement. Built in 1893, it was later rebuilt in the 1930s.
The modest interior of the church, which believe it or not, hosted the very secretive and private 1996 wedding of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessett.
One of the restored homes inside The Settlement.
Wild horses getting a drink of water in one of the tidal creeks which cut through the middle of the island.
A closer view, aren't they magnificent?
One of the many beautiful live oak trees located on the front lawn of the Plum Orchard Estate.
The grand entry way of the Plum Orchard mansion which is located in the center of the island.
This is where the china and silverware was kept in the home.
A small portion of the massive kitchen area.
This contraption on the right does one thing, make ice cubes!
Everyone has to have an indoor heated swimming pool, don't they?
The resurrection fern was in full color after the rains during the previous two days.
Construction began in 1884 on The Dungeness Mansion, Thomas Carnegie's (Andrew's brother) winter getaway which is located at the southern end of the island. Thomas passed away before the home was finished being built.
Also located on the Dungeness property.
The walkway leading into the gardens
This was once the garden area.
In 1959, after being left empty for nearly 40 years, Dungeness mysteriously burned to the ground.
This is all that's left today!
59 rooms and 35,000 square feet, not to shabby of a winter home, even for a Carnegie!


Option 1 - Do nothing and cycle through the photos at the predetermined speed.

Option 2 - Hover over any photo with the cursor and use the forward and reverse arrows that appear on the left and right centers to speed through the photos. Photos will still change at the predetermined speed if you wait too long. Keep your eye on the clock in the upper right hand corner.

Option 3 - Hover over any photo with the cursor and click on the pause button. You now have full control to go forward or reverse at your own speed. You can also select any of the little round buttons under the photo to navigate through the photos.


1st - Click near the center of any photo and it will open to a larger size than what appears in the slideshow.
2nd - Click on it again and it will open to it's original full resolution size.
3rd - You will have to use your browsers back button to return to the slideshow after viewing the photo.

I am so glad we got to visit this National Seashore because just one week ago the government shutdown meant no National Park ferry was operating to give transportation over to the island. With possibly just a three week window to visit the island during the temporary reopening of the parks we made sure to get over there for a visit.

The island is nearly 20 miles long from tip to tip and the four most interesting sites are located, one at each of the north and south ends, with two more in the middle. They rent bicycles on the island, but the only road on the island is very potholed and is comprised of dirt and gravel. You can't ride very fast under these conditions.

If you really hustled you could possibly ride a bicycle from the Dungeness Ruins on the south end of the island (2.5 miles south of the ferry dock) and visit the Stafford and Plum Orchard Estates in the middle of the island (7 miles north of the ferry dock) in a one day visit. That's 19 miles of bicycle riding on a bumpy road, something not everyone is cut out for. You would still miss a visit to the north end of the island where the The Settlement and First African Baptist Church are located by visiting this way.

In my opinion there are only two viable ways to visit this National Seashore if you wish to see ALL the historic sites there are to see. The ferry boat's earliest morning trip arrives on the island at 9:45am and the latest afternoon trip back to the mainland leaves at 4:45pm, that only gives you 7 hours to visit.

OPTION #1 - CAMP OVERNIGHT - You could bring camping gear and stay for three of more days, then hike or bicycle to all the sites, but that still means a 17 mile trip from Sea Camp (located .5 mile from the ferry dock) to visit the north end sites and don't forget the 17 miles back to the camp.
If you like to backpack there are camps located 3.5, 5.5, 7.5 and 10.5 miles north of the ferry dock. That means you have to break camp every morning and move 2-3 miles to the next location or go straight to the 7.5 or 10.5 mile camp on the first day. There is no camping allowed at the 17 mile location of The Settlement and Church.

OPTION #2 - A VAN TOUR - The one we did by the way! Take the 6-7 hour Lands and Legacies Tour for $45.00 per person and travel in an A/C'd 15-passenger van to see all the sites. You'll get just enough time to visit each site and make sure to pack a lunch, you'll be eating at picnic tables out on the front lawn of Plum Orchard, probably my favorite site on the tour.

It's your choice to determine how you want to visit the island. On the day we went most folks just visited the southern end of the island and walked a 4.3 mile loop. They missed out on so many of the historic sites by doing this!

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Until next time

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