It was foggy and half-light when Chris and I left Jacksonville Saturday morning. We looped around 9A to I-95 north up to Georgia, our favorite haunt of recent weekends. We arrived in historic St. Mary just in time to catch the Cumberland Lady, the 45-minute ferry ride to Cumberland Island. The boat was full, mostly of campers and beach-goers decked out with coolers.
We skipped the Dungeness Dock in favor of the Sea Camp Dock where I could get a stamp of the outline of the island in my National Park Passport. Yay! Then we hiked down the River Trail between live oaks, Spanish bayonet, Spanish moss and many, many spiderwebs.
The Dungeness Dock sits next to an open field that the wild horses of the island keep short. On of the horses followed Chris around, inciting squeals of jealousy from a chubby little girl there with her family. It’s fun being a big kid so adults can’t tell you not to do what they’re telling their own kids not to do. Mama and Daddy let us jump off of and climb things most kids weren’t, and those kids’ parents always felt a need to boss us around when M&D were out of range, so we’d just wait for them to leave and get back to the jumping or whatever. But now, bwa ha ha, Chris can pet the wild horses if he wants to while parents hold their children at bay, most likely annoyed it did not bite him so they could teach it into a lesson of what happens when you don’t follow the rules. Take that, rules!
This is Dungeness from the back. The Spanish lived on the island (then called San Pedro) from 1670 to 1724. General James Oglethorpe renamed Cumberland Island and the English established a hunting lodge named Dungeness before abandoning it in 1775. Oglethorpe was the leader of last weekend’s GA locale 30 miles north: Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island. In 1796, Phineas Miller began work on Dungeness Mansion near the old hunting lodge. The mansion held Georgia’s high-society parties until it was occupied by the British during the War of 1812. The island was mostly abandoned after the Civil War and Dungeness burnt to the ground in 1866. Thomas Carnegie bought land in 1880 and rebuilt the 59-room castle of Dungeness that is in ruins today (no one lived there when it burnt in 1959). The Carnegie family donated it as a national seashore in 1972 to keep the guy who developed Hilton Head from creating a duplication on Cumberland Island. The park ensures only 300 people are allowed on the island at a time, so sea-shelling is excellent and even encouraged.