Another goal achieved! Every time we have passed by Cumberland Island National Seashore on our way up and down the ICW, we have wanted to stop, but it just never worked out. This year’s visit had been planned for a long time, but then those crazy hurricanes appeared and, once again, our trip to the barrier island was no longer a sure thing. In early September, Hurricane Irma forced a complete evacuation of Cumberland’s campers and sparse residents, and the damage incurred during the storm kept it closed until November 11th. Luckily, we had spent enough time in the surrounding area that we were able to delay our arrival until after Thanksgiving, and we were so happy to finally be able to anchor and spend a few days at this beautiful park.
It is always fun for Kirby to be on the beach. He loves those waves!The paths in the park are just beautiful.There is a 4.2 mile loop around the park. It passes through forests, beaches, abandoned homes, the Dungeness mansion, a museum, and many historical sights. At various stops, you can dial your phone for an audio explanation of the history of the spot where you are standing. The remains of the Dungeness castle.A boardwalk through the marsh.
Cumberland Island is rich in history. The first inhabitants, Native Americans, lived on the island about 4000 years ago. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Spanish built missions there. By 1683, French pirates attacked Cumberland and looted and burned most of the buildings and villages. In 1733 the English arrived and built forts and a hunting lodge called Dungeness. After the Revolutionary War, the island became home for a huge mansion and cotton plantations. Later, it became home for the elite. Andrew Carnegie began a new 59-room castle named Dungeness after the first hunting lodge, but he died before its completion. His wife and children lived there until the Crash and the Great Depression when it was abandoned. Burned in 1959, the remains of the mansion are on view for today’s visitors. The park officially became a National Seashore in 1972. It is now only reached by boat or by a ferry from St. Mary’s, GA. The ferry transports day-trippers as well as campers, who must bring everything they need with them and take everything they brought out. There are not even any garbage cans in the park.
Our first view of one of the feral horses.We sat and ate lunch on a due right next to these two. They were not the least bit affected by our presence.This guy seemed to really like John.They were so beautiful as they made their way to the ocean.
Of course, Cumberland’s most famous residents are its feral horses. These horses roam the island freely, and can be seen almost anywhere. We saw our first horse by the dinghy dock near the ranger station. We saw others in lawns, on the beach, and in the distance in a marsh. They are beautiful, but wild. While our walk along the beach brought us closer to them, we didn’t purposely approach them. One horse, however, seemed to take a liking to John and went right up to him. Still, we did not touch them. Later we saw them walk down to the water, where one decided to lie down and roll around in the waves. They are truly a beautiful sight.
Cumberland Island was all we hoped it would be. It is a spectacular destination that should not be missed by anyone, especially if traveling down the east coast of the U.S.
After a few days in Cumberland Island’s anchorage, it was time to prepare for our next destination, Jacksonville, where AfterMath would remain for the holidays and her annual maintenance. Updates on our holidays will be coming soon!