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Fort King George State Historic Site – Darien, Georgia

Alex and Heather Bailey of OutsideTheDen.com take tour Fort King George State Historic Site.

Published October 6, 2013 in History      7 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article




Alex: We were driving back home after a wonderful and relaxing weekend in Savannah. We’d spent most of the trip recharging, so we were both feeling a bit adventurous. Heather had the idea to take the next exit with a brown highway sign we saw, no matter what it was. We had no idea what we were in for when we pulled off on Exit 49 for the Fort King George Historical Site.



After a few twists and turns through the tiny town of Darien, we parked and made our way up to the museum entrance. As we opened the door, we found ourselves face to face with a British soldier taking refuge from the heat and humidity. When we paid our admission, we found that we had arrived on the perfect day at the perfect time. The site was filled with reenactors and there would also be various demonstrations throughout the day including a cannon and musket firing down in the fort itself.

We had a bit of time before the explosions, so we took the opportunity to walk through the museum itself before heading back outside. The fortress itself was built by British Colonel John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell in 1721. The fortifications were only manned for half a dozen years before Barnwell and His Majesties Independent Company were driven back to South Carolina by the dangerous environment and the threats from the Spanish, French, and native population. The exhibits were very informative, with scale replicas of the fort and a variety of artifacts. The interior was clean and well maintained, and the exhibit on medical procedures and medicines were just as gruesome as they were enlightening (Two words, bleeding bowl!).







It was a short walk from the museum to the fort, but it was incredibly scenic. A few reeanctors strolled ahead of us as we passed the remnants of the sawmill that was in operation from the early 1800s until 1925. Unfortunately, saw milling obliterated the original site of Fort King George, which was painstakingly reconstructed in 1988 with the help of the Lower Altamaha Historical Society and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (see more here). It is always fascinating to see the multiple layers of history existing simultaneously as you walk from the modern day museum, to the turn of the century brick and mortar sawmill operations, and then finally to the fort built of tough seasoned cypress.





The reconstruction is beautifully well done; the wooden palisade juts up from the earthworks and looks just as imposing as it must have looked centuries ago. The four storey wooden blockhouse towers over the area. Today its only manned by locals and tourists armed with nothing more frightening than a digital camera, but it would have been a much more threatening location filled with its garrison of sweaty unhappy colonial soldiers armed with muskets and cannons loaded with grapeshot.





Inside is even more impressive, especially with the troupe of local reenactors. A whole chicken roasted on a stick over an open fire near the enlisted men’s barracks as we wandered around the parade grounds. A family in colonial dress played folk songs long out of fashion. Most of the smaller outbuildings are simplistic one room affairs, but the open kitchen and smithy were worth a look. Inside the fort, the walls seemed less threatening and more reassuring, most likely because the cannons were all pointed in the other direction!



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7 Comments

Dog Walker

October 06, 2013, 09:48:26 AM
The town of Darien itself is also beautiful and interesting.  It was a port and used by blockade runners during the Civil War until the 54th Massachusetts regiment (of the movie Glory fame) came over from the Union occupied sea islands and burned the whole town.

When rebuilding the town, the residents lined the streets with Live Oaks which are now huge and magnificent 150 years later.  The lumber barons of the town built big, lavish houses many of which are now B&B's.

Ft. King George is typical of Georgia State Parks.  They are usually around a historic site of some sort and very well kept and managed.

All this is just a few miles north of Brunswick and well worth the drive.

Wacca Pilatka

October 06, 2013, 08:43:16 PM
I love Darien! A great town. 

HisBuffPVB

November 01, 2013, 06:41:28 PM
The tabby building ruins on the waterfront are very interesting also. Good little hometown newspaper. Great nature viewpoints up and down the Altamaha basin. Just the drive up Georgia 99 out of Darien is a nice day trip from Jacksonville. McIntosh County has an interesting history, one should read "Praying for sheet rock" a contemporary history of the county and its colorful sheriff.

RMHoward

December 05, 2013, 03:53:40 PM
Interesting and ironic.  My wife and I spend a long weekend in St. Simons Island two weeks ago.  From there, we explored Fort Frederica, Fort King George, Bloody Marsh, and the town of Darien, Ga.  We also did a day trip to Savannah.  Fort Frederica was the most interesting place to visit by far (for us). Great little trip. 

Dog Walker

December 05, 2013, 04:40:33 PM
Interesting and ironic.  My wife and I spend a long weekend in St. Simons Island two weeks ago.  From there, we explored Fort Frederica, Fort King George, Bloody Marsh, and the town of Darien, Ga.  We also did a day trip to Savannah.  Fort Frederica was the most interesting place to visit by far (for us). Great little trip. 

Polite question: Why ironic?

bobsim

December 05, 2013, 05:05:52 PM
   C'mon, no one has mentioned the hardware store in Darien? It's a trip back in time. Creaky wood floors, community bulletin board, live crickets and fresh seafood. Lots of supplies for the shrimp fleet, bulk seeds, nails and fishing tackle. Just like Wallyworld with out the devil.

  Seriously, if you are close and want a dose of nostalgia stop in and look around.

  Here's a trip we made not too long ago with some pics of Darien:
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1624385

RMHoward

December 05, 2013, 09:22:32 PM
Interesting and ironic.  My wife and I spend a long weekend in St. Simons Island two weeks ago.  From there, we explored Fort Frederica, Fort King George, Bloody Marsh, and the town of Darien, Ga.  We also did a day trip to Savannah.  Fort Frederica was the most interesting place to visit by far (for us). Great little trip. 

Polite question: Why ironic?
Ironic to come upon this post after just visiting the area, Darien, and Fort King George. Nothing more.
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