Cumberland: Wild and Undeveloped

March 5, 2016 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Wild horses roam through the dunes and along undeveloped beaches. Intricate shells are left by the sea all along the shoreline, just waiting to be collected. Behind these regal beaches are giant and extensive sand dunes that eventually lead back into the vibrant green wilderness. Check out Cumberland Island after the jump!

Words and images by Ashley Anderson
in association with our partners at One Tank Media

A canopy of tall, tangled trees make a patchwork pattern of light and shade all across the ground. The winding branches are covered with Spanish moss and the resurrection fern intertwining, creating myriad twists and turns.

A once fantastic mansion, full of life and vitality, is now nothing more than broken walls and cracked brick that still give fantastic insight into the island’s story. Pieces of driftwood linger on the shore and the wind howls, telling stories that are hundreds of years old.

The walk from the open beach morphs into a canvas of twisting and turning trees.

This is Cumberland Island located right off the coast of Georgia. This island that was once home to rich aristocrats and war generals, is now open to the public, preserved as a national treasure.

Cumberland Island is 17.5 miles long, with an area of 36,415 acres including 16,850 acres of marsh, mudflats, and tidal creeks. No cars are allowed on the island except by the owners and approved parks service vehicles.

After 17 years of working on the island park ranger Pauline Wentworth still finds this island to be something special.

“If I had to choose a place to work this is the ideal thing for me,” she said. Originally she wanted to go out to the ocean and do research but she got to the beach and stopped. “It’s not just the beach; it’s not just the forest; it’s everything working together and there is so much variety and diversity out here it is just incredible.”

Cumberland Island National Seashore, which is one of 9,800 congressionally designated wildernesses in the United States, features echoes of natives, missionaries, slaves and even wealthy industrialists. They have all been a part of Cumberland’s story.

For thousands of years the island was visited by Timucuan Indians. In the 1500s, Spanish friars and soldiers built a Catholic mission and a large fort.

The wild horses on the island can be traced back into the 1700s, although it is believed that they arrived even earlier, possibly during the Spanish missionary period. The horses on the island today have a genetic makeup that is closely related to several breeds of common domestic horses, which is most likely the result of post-1900 introductions of other animals to the island.

Plum Orchard, built in 1898 by Lucy Carnegie for her son George and his wife, is located almost 8 miles from the Sea Camp dock.  

Greyfield was built for Lucy and Thomas Carnegie’s daughter, Margaret Ricketson.  In 1962 it was opened as The Greyfield Inn by Margaret’s daughter, Lucy Ferguson, and her family. To get to Greyfield adventurers take the “Lucy R. Ferguson,” a ferry at Fernandina Beach Harbor.

The First African Baptist Church was established in 1893 and then rebuilt in the 1930s. In 1996, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married at the site. In the 1960s, the Carnegies, joined by other landowners, cooperated with the National Park Foundation to acquire land for public purposes. Finally in 1972, Congress legislated into existence the Cumberland Island National Seashore.

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