Fort George Island Cultural State Park and Kingsley Plantation
Historic site of human habitation for over 5,000 years
Leaders: Walter Bryant & park ranger
Start Time at Site: 10:00 AM
End Time at Site: 2:00 PM
Lunch Included? No
Handicap Access: No
Fort George Island has been a site of human occupation for over 5,000 years and is named for a 1736 fort built to defend the southern Flank of Georgia when it was a colony. Native Americans, including the Timucua, had a kingdom here, colonists built a fort and the rich set of the 1920's came here for vacations. At one time, Fort George Island had two hotels, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and other diversions that attracted the turn of century elites such as members of the Carnegie and Vanderbilt families. Today the island is in the process of returning to it's natural state through revegetation and succession. You will be led on a three-mile hike by a park volunteer who will talk about the history of the island and the plants and wildlife that inhabit the land. Then you will visit the museum in the historic Ribault Club and view artifacts recovered from the area.
After the hike, you will drive a short distant on the island to historic Kingsley Plantation for a tour led by a National Park Service Park Guide. Fort George Island was owned by many planters over the years, but Kingsley Plantation is named after Zephaniah Kingsley, a British born man who established a Sea Island cotton plantation in the early 19th century. The plantation was unique during Kingsley's time in that it saw both the laws of the Spanish system of slavery and the U.S. system of slavery. At Kingsley Plantation, you will find the oldest standing plantation house in the state of Florida that is a testament to the skill of enslaved carpenters. Grounds include the kitchen house, barn, interpretive garden, waterfront, and tabby slave cabins, which are considered the best surviving examples of the use of this building material. Kingsley Plantation affords the opportunity to learn about the lives of enslaved people at the birthplace of Africian American archaeology.
Fort George Island can be a spooky place. Photo by Walter Bryant