The Golden Isles: Culture and History
By Kathrin Kana
It was already dark when I started driving to the Golden Isles off the southeastern coast of Georgia, so I couldn’t anticipate what I would discover in the morning – but I awoke to find gorgeous landscapes which were just breathtaking. My stay was filled with treasures which invited me to delve deeper into its history. The Golden Isles consists of four islands – St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, as well as the mainland city of Brunswick. I spent my time exploring the historical sites on St. Simons Island, the largest of the four.
The Lighthouse of St. Simons Island
I began my trip on St. Simons Island with a visit to the St. Simons Lighthouse. After mastering 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse, I couldn’t believe the incredible view: Neptune Park, a miniature golf course, the beautiful coastline and greenery everywhere. Originally lit with oil, the still-active light converted to electricity in 1934 and still uses the original third-order Fresnel lens. The museum and the gift shop at the foot of the tower are also highly recommended.
Christ Church Frederica
Close by I found the cute little Christ Church Frederica, one of the oldest in Georgia. The original building was destroyed during the Civil War and was rebuilt in 1889 by Anson Dodge as a memorial for his wife, Ellen, who died on their honeymoon in India. The adjacent cemetery has gravesites which date back to 1803. If you think this is nothing but a small church, you might be surprised to find out that several U.S. presidents have attended service here.
Fort Frederica: Military Post of the Early 18th Century
Since I’ve always been fascinated by the American history, one of my favourite spots on St. Simons Island is Fort Frederica. Named after the Prince of Wales, Frederick Louis, the oldest son of King George II, it was established as a defence post against the Spanish in Florida on March 16, 1736. Its founder, James Edward Oglethorpe, did not only come here to defend British military interests, but there were also commercial and philanthropic reasons. The first colonists were 44 men and 72 women and children from England, Scotland and the German territories; only a few years later the number had risen to 1,000.
Today, only the ruins stand, as the remains of the abandoned post had burned down in 1758. Yet I still found it impressive: the wall remnants of “tabby,” a mix of sand, water and boiled oyster shells, gave insight into the former architecture, and the massive oaks with long, thick drapes of Spanish moss hanging everywhere felt like the entrance to a magical world.
I thought this journey into America’s past was really interesting! The Golden Isles is culturally and historically stunning, and come complete with gorgeous beaches and lots of fun for the family.