Travel: On my Bucket List- Cumberland Island

Travel: On my Bucket List- Cumberland Island

Do you remember where John Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Bessette were married?
Answer: Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast. A national treasure, Cumberland Island is the most accessible of Georgia’s “wild” barrier islands, and offers an unforgettable adventure for anyone who makes the journey. 
If you have the time to spend 3 days on a national treasure full of historic ruins, wild horses, deserted beaches, and  stay at the Greyfield Inn, (a wonderful top tier bed and breakfast inn), then add it to your bucket list

Map of Cumberland Island

History:

One of the most famous estates on the Georgia coast was Dungeness, owned by Revolutionary War hero Gen. Nathanael Greene, who commanded the Southern Department of the war. While he owned Mulberry Grove Plantation near Savannah, he also planned to build a huge mansion on Cumberland Island near the site of Oglethorpe’s Dungeness hunting lodge. He died in 1(912) 786 before he was able to complete his plans. His wife, Catherine, remarried 10 years later to Phineas Miller, and they followed through on Greene’s designs, building a huge, four-story tabby mansion on top of an Indian shell mound. The mansion, with 6-foot thick walls at the base, featured four chimneys and 16 fireplaces, and was surrounded by 12 acres of gardens.
When the island was briefly occupied during the War of 1812, the British used Dungeness as their headquarters. Here a British captain named John Fraser met and eventually married a southern belle named Ann Couper, who was a member of the family that owned Cannon’s Point plantation on St. Simons.
It is believed that the wild horses came to the island during the British occupation. Currently there are about 150 horses on the island.
The plantation economy was dealt a deathblow with the Civil War, and Dungeness deteriorated and the family moved away. Slaves were rounded up by the Union Army and moved to Amelia Island, but some returned to Halfmoon Bluff on the northern end in an area known as The Settlement. Freed slaves may have been the cause of the fire of 1866 that destroyed the historic mansion, and another legend tells the story of Cumberland plantation owner Robert Stafford burning the quarters of his former slaves after they refused to work for him after gaining their freedom.
The island remained abandoned until the 1880s, when Pittsburgh millionaire Thomas Carnegie, brother of Andrew, acquired the Dungeness property for use as a winter retreat. On the foundations of the Greene-Miller-Shaw Dungeness, the Carnegies built an even grander mansion in 1884. The third Dungeness, at its peak, was a 59-room turreted Scottish castle, with a pool house, squash court, and golf course, and 40 other buildings that accommodated a staff of 200. Thomas died around the time the mansion was finished, but his widow, Lucy, and their nine children continued to develop Cumberland. Lucy purchased 90 percent of the island and she and her heirs built Cumberland’s most famous buildings, including Greyfield, Stafford, and Plum Orchard. Dungeness remained occupied off and on until 1959, when it tragically burned. Greyfield is a private inn and Plum Orchard, an 1898 Georgian-revival mansion, is administered by the National Park Service. The bill was signed by President Richard Nixon on October 23, 1972. The Carnegie family sold the island to the federal government. With donations from the Mellon Foundation, Cumberland Island became a national park.

Our visit:

We had taken a 3 day side trip to Cumberland Island when we were staying on Amelia Island for a couple’s weekend with friends from Atlanta. Amelia Island is north of Jacksonville on the border of the Florida-Georgia line which is another great place to visit if you haven’t already.
The only way you can get to Cumberland Island is by boat. There is a ferry service from Amelia Island to Cumberland Island or from St. Marys in Georgia. The ferry ride from Amelia was only 40 minutes long and very nice. 
Upon arriving at the dock we were met by folks from the Greyfield Inn who took our luggage and we walked to the inn. No cars allowed except for service vehicles from the inn or the National park service.
We  got  checked in, grabbed a boxed lunch already prepared for us and took off on bikes to explore the island.

Greyfield Inn

The white, Colonial-style home with a wide, covered veranda was built in 1901 as a vacation retreat for Margaret Ricketson, the daughter of Lucy and Thomas Carnegie. In the ’60s, Margaret’s daughter, Lucy Ferguson, turned it into an inn.
Mitty Ferguson, great-great-grandson of Thomas Carnegie, and his wife Mary run Greyfield Inn.
Mitty and Mary Ferguson
Mitty Ferguson, great-great-grandson of Thomas Carnegie, and his wife Mary run Greyfield Inn. Mitty often pilots the inn’s ferry, which brings guests to the island from the dock in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
The Fergusons and Mitty’s sister Gogo, a jewelry designer , still live on the island. They live in a house with a wraparound porch, which can be seen from the Greyfield veranda. Gogo’s house and attached jewelry shop is next to the Greyfield barn. Several other Carnegie homes are nearby.

Gogo jewelry is inspired by nature
GoGo Jewelry 
Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island
Greyfield Inn
Living room at the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island
I should mention that there isn’t internet or televisions  to entertain you. Old fashion reading is recommended as well as good conversations with the people you meet at the inn. The food is exceptional and you dress up for dinner.
Robin Lamonte in the living room at the Greyfield Inn.
Wild horses are everywhere on the island and many spend time close to the inn.
Wild horses roaming Cumberland Island
Momma and her baby on the Greyfield Inn property near GoGo Ferguson’s shop.
Momma and her baby on the Greyfield Inn property near GoGo Ferguson's shop.
Robin is reading the map on the beach. Not a human in site to give her directions….
Robin is reading the map on the beach. Not a human in site to give her directions....
These birds are called Oyster Catchers and were Robin’s beach companions.
These birds are called Oyster Catchers
These birds are called Oyster Catchers
You many not see humans, but horses will join you on the beach.
Wild horses roaming the beach on Cumberland Island
We rode bikes to the ruins which was an easy 2 mile trip from the inn.
We rode bikes to the ruins which was an easy 2 mile trip from the inn.
Dungeness as it looked before the fire in 1959. A fire destroyed the deserted castle, some say by poachers hell-bent on destroying “this forbidden land” flourishing with game and modern conveniences. Seen from as far away as St. Marys, Dungeness burned for three days.
Dungeness as it looked before the fire in 1959.
Dungeness prior to the fire in 1959
The Dungeness ruins today.
The Dungeness ruins today.
The Dungeness ruins today.
The Dungeness ruins and the horses.
The Dungeness ruins and the horses.
This horse skeleton hangs by Gogo Ferguson’s home and jewelry shop by Greyfield Inn.
This horse skeleton hangs by Gogo Ferguson's home and jewelry shop by Greyfield Inn.
Biking on the Live Oak lined trails of Cumberland Island
 Biking on the Live Oak lined trails of Cumberland Island
I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip to Cumberland Island.
I highly recommend you experience the island yourself!!

Until next time.
Thanks for stopping by!
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