Cumberland Island National Seashore Turns 40

Cumberland Island National Seashore recently (October 23) celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Access to Cumberland Island is by a concession operated passenger ferry, The Cumberland Lady. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Access to Cumberland Island is by a concession operated passenger ferry, The Cumberland Lady. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When President Richard Nixon signed federal legislation creating the national seashore off the coast of Georgia in October 1972, it culminated what Park Service officials said was “a long and complex process of obtaining support from various individuals and groups to make Georgia’s largest barrier island one of America’s national parks, reports nationalparkstraveler.com.”

Before the National Park Service acquired most of the island for a national seashore, 90 percent of it was the private domain of Lucy and Thomas Carnegie (brother of Andrew) and their descendants. The Carnegies bought the island in the 1880s and built five mansions on it during the next two decades. The most superb house was the opulent 59-room, Queen Anne-style Dungeness on the island’s south end.

Dungeness burned nearly to the ground in 1959 from a fire suspected as arson, but its ruins are a must-see for visitors.

We stopped during our visit to the island in early December 2007 to gaze at the tall chimneys, solid brick walls, and other stark remains of the old mansion.

After pausing at an old cemetery where war hero, “Light Horse” Harry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) was interred following his death on the island in 1818, we further explored the island. Continuing the 3 ½-mile Dungeness Trail as it loops around the island’s southern tip, we walked the raised boardwalk over the dunes to the wide, secluded beach, alive with crabs and shorebirds including the American Oystercatcher and Least Tern.

Visitors are reminded these are feral horses and should be treated as wild animals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Visitors are reminded these are feral horses and should be treated as wild animals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On several occasions we encountered many of the 250 feral horses that roam the island, descendants of steeds the Carnegies released during their heyday. Beloved by visitors, they are perhaps the most popular feature to the island, but do have a detrimental effect on the island’s fragile vegetation.

We saw in Cumberland what the Native American inhabitants glimpsed thousands of years ago, as they roamed the densely wooded, 18-mile-long isle of land hunting and fishing.

We saw what enchanted Spanish missionaries saw in 1566. And what endeared the British, who built forts in the early 1700s to protect their fledgling Georgia colony. And what captivated industrialist Thomas Carnegie and his wife, Lucy, who purchased large swaths of the island in the 1880s and built lavish winter retreats.

And what bewitched John F. Kennedy Jr., who married Carolyn Bessette at a tiny African-American church near the island’s north end.

After meandering lazily along the wide, sandy, shell-flecked beach, we slowly made our way to Sea Camp dock where we re-boarded the passenger ferry for a sunset cruise back to the mainland (St. Marys, Georgia).

We spent an awesome six hours on the island and vowed to return!

The process of making the island a national seashore went back to 1962 “when Florence, the last surviving child of Thomas and Lucy Carnegie died,” seashore officials note, reports nationalparkstraveler.com.

“With her death, the trust established by Lucy Carnegie ended, allowing lands owned by the Carnegie heirs to be sold.”

The surviving Carnegies had differing visions for what to do with the island: some wanted to sell to a real estate developer; others wanted it to become a national park.

“Those wanting to sell their land did so to coastal developer Charles Fraser, who had already realized development success on Hilton Head Island,” according to seashore accounts.

Dungeness Ruins has a very long history to tell. The name came originally from the very first property, which was a hunting lodge named Dungeness, in the area, owned by James Oglethorpe in 1736. In 1803, it was replaced by a mansion built by Nathaniel Greene, which was later on used as a headquarters by the British. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Dungeness Ruins has a very long history to tell. The name came originally from the very first property, which was a hunting lodge named Dungeness, in the area, owned by James Oglethorpe in 1736. In 1803, it was replaced by a mansion built by Nathaniel Greene, which was later on used as a headquarters by the British. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Those seeking to preserve the island sought the assistance of Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. With guidance from former Secretary Udall, family members united by Joe Graves created a vision for the island. Congressman Bill Stuckey, who represented southeast coastal Georgia, began the long and delicate process of creating a bill able to pass both the House and Senate.”

The park currently cares for nearly 80 historic structures including the restored Plum Orchard. Nearly 60 of these historic structures have been rehabilitated. In addition to caring for historic structures, the park also cares for over 207,000 artifacts in its collection.

Did You Know?

Cumberland Island provides important habitat for a number of important species including shore birds such as American Oystercatchers, Least Terns, and Wilson’s Plovers. The island is an important stopover point for migrating birds on the transatlantic migratory flyway.

Please Note: This is part one of a 2-part series on Cumberland Island National Seashore

Part 2: Georgia on My Mind: Cumberland Island National Seashore

Worth Pondering…

The beach is the draw—

17 miles of hard packed blonde sands.

You can walk forever and seldom meet a soul

Esquire

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RVC Outdoor Destinations Adds Smokey Mountains Resort

Memphis, Tennessee-based RVC Outdoor Destinations, the leading provider of high-quality outdoor resorts in the United States, announces that River Plantation RV Park in Sevierville, Tennessee will be re-flagged as an RVC Outdoor Destination.

After ongoing renovations are completed, including the addition of a new lodge and fitness center, the property will be renamed River Plantation RV Resort in early 2013.

River Plantation RV Park, developed by Jimbo Conner over the last twenty years, is the preeminent outdoor hospitality property in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park region and one of the best performing RV oriented properties in the United States.

With extensive frontage on the Little Pigeon River, River Plantation RV Park provides great water views and close proximity to the many attractions within one of the largest tourism markets in the United States. Boasting 293 RV sites and 8 cabins, the property has ample room for hosting large groups and rallies.

“In our ongoing expansion efforts, we discovered that River Plantation RV Park shares our vision for a better guest experience. River Plantation is already the finest RV and cabin oriented property in the region, and we are honored and excited to have River Plantation joining our group of upscale recreational properties that are redefining the outdoor experience” said Andy Cates, RVC’s President.

“RVC understands the industry. They are striving to improve consistency and standards and we want to be a part of it. Also, they bring collaborative resources and a partnership that will allow River Plantation to grow and improve,” said Jimbo Conner, owner of River Plantation.

This partnership is the first Joint Venture for RVC involving flagging and operating a separately owned property. In addition to providing long-term management and branding, RVC is providing capital for improvements and expansion.

Details

RVC Outdoor Destinations

RVC Outdoor Destinations develops, owns, and operates a portfolio of high-quality outdoor hospitality properties located within some of the country’s most beautiful natural settings and offering upscale services and amenities.

Memphis, Tennessee-based RVC is redefining the traditional camping experience with its original Outdoor Destination concept and upgraded RV resorts that provides guests with a comfortable, customizable, outdoor vacation through a variety of affordable lodging options, including RV sites, yurts, cabins, and cottages, all with enhanced guest amenities and recreational activities.

RVC operates eight Outdoor Destinations and RV Resorts in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

Address: 429 N Main Street, Suite 100, Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Phone: (901) 432-4748

Website: rvcoutdoors.com

River Plantation RV Park

River Plantation RV Park (Source:tripadvisor.com)

River Plantation RV Park offers the ideal Smoky Mountain/Pigeon Forge RV Park location.

A blend of Eastern Tennessee hospitality, reasonable nightly rates, and majestic Smoky Mountain views as well as first rate amenities and services provide you the very best in Pigeon Forge campground life.

Located in Sevierville, Tennessee in a peaceful valley bordered by the Little Pigeon River, River Plantation is only minutes away from all that the Smokies, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Knoxille have to offer.

Two outdoor pools with hot tub, modern bath facilities, and cabins make the campground a Good Sam Club and Woodall’s favorite.

The River Plantation Conference Center and Catering enables the park us to handle many well known RV groups and rallies.

Location: 1004 Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37862

Directions: From Sevierville travel 1.3 miles south on U.S. 441; from Pigeon Forge travel 4.8 miles north on U.S. 441

Phone: (865) 429-5267 or (800) 758-5267 (toll free)

Website: riverplantationrv.com

Worth Pondering…

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

—Peter Drucker

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