Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cumberland Island, Georgia

Cumberland Island National Seashore is a good place to anchor while wandering along the ICW, and it's also a great place to commune with nature.

We arrived there about 1pm Monday afternoon. Shortly after anchoring we took the dinghy ashore at Sea Camp dock and went for a two mile walk down to the south end of the island.
Along the way we saw several of the feral horses that live on the island. (We later learned that there about 150 of them there.) We also saw three armadillos. This one was quite calm, but I understand their eyesight and hearing isn't too good, so maybe it didn't see us.

We walked past these huge specimens of Quercus virginiana, similar to our Quercus lobata back home, but evergreen and with bay-laurel shaped leaves. These Southern Live Oaks, with Spanish moss trailing down and branches drooping to the ground are all over the island and some are said to be hundreds of years old.

We made our way to the ruins of the Dungeness House. First built by Catherine Greene in 1803 and abandoned during the Civil War, it first burned in 1866. Another house was later rebuilt there by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie, who owned 90% of the island at the turn of the century. They also built other mansions on the island for their children. They left the island in 1925 and the home burned again in 1959. The only family living there now is a family of ospreys on the top of the chimney.

The next day we went in early and rented some bicycles to tour the north end of the island. We rode about seven miles on the sandy roads and it was not easy! In several spots the sand was so soft we had to get off and walk.

We went past the Stafford house with its runway and feral horses....
and eventually arrived at Plum Orchard. This "cottage" was built for one of the Carnegie children for a wedding present in 1898.
We took the free tour and enjoyed glimpses of a vanished lifestyle.
It has Tiffany lamps, an indoor swimming pool, a squash court, an elevator, and it's own ice making machine. Posh!

If you're heading this way, I would recommend stopping. Whether you want to watch birds, hike, or just lie on the beach, Cumberland Island won't dissapoint.

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