The park service says, Opportunities for photography are endless. Numerous historic structures and ruins scatter the island.
And of course photography is one of the things I like to do, although doing it from a bouncing wheelchair isn't the easiest.
Other than one armadillo that we saw, some birds, and the wild horses (and other tourists), most of the living things that we saw on our visit were plants. On our park service tour, the ranger explained that the cows and wild hogs that were left over from when the island was inhabited by the Carnegies and others were removed from the island but the public did not want the wild horses taken off the island.
The island has three major ecosystem regions. Along the western edge of the island there are large areas of salt marshes. The wild horses tend to overgraze those areas. Live oak trees covered with Spanish moss and the palmetto plants are at the edge of Cumberland's dense maritime forest. The island is home to many native animals. There are white-tailed deer, squirrels, raccoons, nine-banded armadillos, wild boars, and alligators. It is also famous for its wild horses roaming free on the island.
The one ecosystem that we didn't see was the beach, which stretches over 17 miles.
The ranger guided tour of the Dungeness Historic District is conducted daily and begins at Dungeness Dock at approximately 10:00am and 12:45pm. Each tour lasts about an hour. Cumberland Island contains four major historic districts and 87 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This was just a tour of one of the historic districts.
We followed the ranger on her 1:00 tour down alleys of live oak hung with Spanish moss
The ranger told us that there have been three homes named Dungeness on Cumberland Island.
James Oglethorpe built a hunting lodge here and he named it Dungeness. Cumberland Island was given to General Nathaniel Greene to repay the debts that he incurred in the Revolution. He and his wife built the second Dungeness - a four story tabby mansion on the site. His widow Catharine married Phineas Miller. This house was abandoned during the U.S. Civil War and burned in 1862. In 1880 the property was sold to General William George Mackay Davis, and in 1881 Davis Sold it to to Carnegie. The third Dungeness was built by Thomas M. Carnegie, brother of Andrew Carnegie. Lucy Carnegie died in 1916. 1920 was the last event in Dungeness. The Carnegies moved out of Dungeness in 1925.
The ruins you see are NOT the result of a war or even neglect. In 1959, it was destroyed by fire, alleged to be arson.
There are several cemeteries on Cumberland island and some contain gravestones for people who were initially buried there and then moved. Two of my interests are lighthouses and cemeteries. There is a lighthouse on Little Cumberland Island but you an only see if from the south end of Jekyll Island. But I did manage to visit one of the cemeteries-the Greene-Miller Cemetery. In the 1970s we lived in a community called Greene in RI which was named after the General Nathanial Greene, so I was interested to learn about his connection to Cumberland Island.
The Greene-Miller Cemetery, named for the family of General Greene and Phineas Miller is east of the house and includes the graves of Catherine Green Miller, her daughter Louisa Shaw, and her husband James. Also in the cemetery are the graves of two of General William Davis' family. One was his grandson George who was accidentally shot by his Bernard father at about age five. And the other was General Davis' son Bernard who died shortly after the accident.
Outside the main cemetery are the graves of John and Catherine Rikart. The inscription on Catherine's grave says "Erected by the family of Thomas M. Carnegie in affectionate memory of faithful and loyal service During many years."
Also in the cemetery are two gravestones for Lighthorse Henry Lee which explain that he was buried there and then moved. In the strife that led up to the War of 1812, Lee was injured while trying to protect a friend from rioters in Baltimore, Maryland, receiving wounds from which he never recovered. He died at Dungeness, on Cumberland Island, and buried there. Lee was reinterred at the Lee Chapel Museum in Lexington in 1913.
After the tour we visited the little museum in the old Ice House. There was a small cooling room with posters about water and ice (2nd photo).
The main part of the museum started with section called Hunting and Gathering (Time of the Timucuans) which was about the Indians prior to Europeans colonizing the area. The next section talks about Agricultural (Plantation Era) when the Revolutionary War heron General Nathaniel Greene and his wife Catherine (Caty) Greene settled here and built the first Dungeness. They were joined at Cumberland Island by Eli Whitney. Eli and Nathaniel tried unsuccessfully to market the cotton gin. The third main section was The Gilded Age in the latter part of the 19th. century whenThomas and Lucy Carnegie bought extensively on the island. The Carnegie's built the present Dungeness on the ruins of the Greene-Miller Dungeness.
There is another room of the museum which contains a series of displays about the War of 1812. I didn't get any photos there.
The park's museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 1:00pm to 4:00pm. and is staffed by Cumberland Island National Seashore volunteers.
Miles of glorious beach to walk on, lots of birds and a mystery - - - why are there so many dead horseshoe crabs???? We never did find out. do you know the reason for this horror? I should attach a photo of some of these dead creatures. soon.
Meanwhile, please enjoy these birds. I hope you see them in this small photo! They are flying and walking, too. I really love birds.
After we got off the ferry, we borrowed one of the carts to bring our stuff to our reserved camp site. I was so struck with the vegetation of the island, starting right then. I said, "stop, I want to just absorb this place." the sea air, the smells of the flora...and the look of all of it was something I had never experienced before.
This path connects many areas of the National Park,s you will get to know it well.
Later, Dave took this photo of me on the path we had walkd on so many times, over the days we were there. Once, we found two of the wild horses on this path. They were just hanging out, ignoring us, which was good. Beautiful, brown & healthy looking strong creatures.They will live their whole lives in this beautiful place.
You can walk for miles on the sandy beach, or take a trail with trees overhead. You get a map before you leave the mainland (Georgia), or you can find one at the ranger stations, on the island, too. It shows the trails, etc.
Bring your own water on your hike. The trails are fairly level, but unpaved, of course. Yeah!
The day we walked to the South tip of the island, it was very windy and pretty cold. It was November, afterall. The rest of the day time hours we spent there were not cold. Something about that area made the wind rip. So bring a windbreaker jacket, for anytime that isn't Summer. You'll need it for the ferry ride, probably, also.
These ruins are the remains of the Thomas and Lucy Carnegie's Dungeness. It was built in the mid 1880's. Thomas died in 1886, leaving his wife and nine children. Well, what else are you going to do on an island but have nine kids?? Dungeness had a huge fire in 1959, but by then it had not been occupied for many years.
When we got to the ruins, there were some of the island's wild horses grazing there. Be careful not to get in between them during mating season!!
Cumberland is only 17.5 miles long, so exploring is not a problem. On your trek you may see sea turtles, turkeys, wild horses, armadillos,and wild pigs(that they are currently trying to get rid of). Ride on a bike through the forests, down to the beach, or to one of the historic properties....(JFK was married at the First African Baptist church here). Beides that, the history here is fascinating.
There are only a couple of museums and a rangers station on the island, so if you are camping, bring everything you may need.
Return from the beach on the Dungenness Trail through the Spanish moss-draped oaks and palmettos lower down. Here is the third aspect of the unique aspect in place here on Cumberland Island. It is about 1 mile from the beach over to the Sea Camp dock along the landward side of the island along the Cumberland Sound. Whatever you do, catch the last ferry of the day, because if you miss it, you'll have to charter a boat for your return. It is a very long swim!
The beach is another one of the reasons to visit Cumberland Island. To visit and maybe to stay, too, at either the improved campground at Sea Camp Beach or one of the unimproved campsites: Stafford Beach, Hickory Hill, Yankee Paradise or Brickhill Bluff. There is water at Sea Camp and wells nearby the unimproved sites, but wellwater should be treated before it is drunk. To get to the unimproved sites, you will have to walk or boat - ie a kayak tour of the salt marsh areas would be outstanding.
But to get back to the beaches of Cumberland, they stretch for miles. The water is warm and the surf not too rough. I visited just after a hurricane had blown through and there were all sorts of debris on the beaches, making them a beachcomber's paradise.
Horses were not original inhabitants of the island. They were all imported from the mainland. Their owners are now gone and they are free, numerous and glorious, lending a unique flavor to the island of a grandeur that remains.
The original gravesite for another Revolutionary hero is here. General 'Lighthorse' Lee - the father of Robert E Lee (Southern commander of the Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War) - died here while on a visit to the Greene family. His body has since been removed to the Lee Chapel on the grounds of the Washington and Lee University - the school that Robert E Lee served as president for after the Civil War. Lee is maybe best known for words he used in eulogizing George Washington when he described Washington as "First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen .... second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life." The body is gone, but the gravemarker remains.
Two mansions were built near the south end of Cumberland Island - the first in the late 1700's and the second, on the foundations of the foundations of the first, by the steel and business magnate Carnegie family, in 1884. After years of disue, the house burnt in 1959, but you can wander outside the ruins with the wild horses - horses from the original stock brought over by the Carnegie family. Donations from the Carnegie family (they owned most of the island) and other contributors ennabled the federal establishment of the National Seashore in 1971.