Friday, February 21, 2014

Imagine a place to visit here in America where the wildlife outnumbers the amount of people in the region. Sounds quite unusual but really nice. It is a place that does exist but that thankfully few know about and even fewer get to visit. I guess that has a lot to do with the fact that animals rule there. The place is a gem of an island off the coast of Georgia. When the government did it’s dramatic shutdown , the place was off limits to all visitors since it is part of the National Parks Service. It is a place full of elegant history and beauty.

Wild horses run free along the beach in all their power and freedom of harnesses or people confining their ride and movements. Watching them in their free state of mind just makes you realize what magnificent beasts they really are to put up with all the confinements that most horses must endure in their lifetime. Here they run freely and mate freely. Horses were introduced to the island when they arrived with the Spanish in the 1500’s. Now horses far outnumber the 30 or so people that live on Cumberland Island.

Cumberland Island is one of the Sea Islands of the southeastern United States and is the largest in terms of continuously exposed lands.  It is located on the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the U.S. state of Georgia and is part of Camden County, Georgia.  Cumberland Island constitutes the westernmost point of shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean in the United States.  The island is 17.5 miles long, with an area of 36,415 acres, including 16,850 acres of marsh, mudflats and tidal creeks.  There is no bridge to the island.  Many visitors  reach the island by the Cumberland Ferry; a convenient access is located in downtown St. Mary's Georgia.

It is a long sliver of an island since it is not quite 20 miles long.  It is a wild and magical place of spectacular beauty.  There is a series of small buildings that are full of historical stories.  A small church is there that was built by freed slaves and now has the history of being where John and Carolyn got married.  Yes, the late John F. Kennedy Jr. who died in the small plane crash who published the gone magazine called George, that John. The people who live on the island are people who,  some,  have lived there through seven generations.

Once like in all of America, native Indians lived on the island. Then the Spanish, the French and the British explorers all spent some time there. A Revolutionary War hero bought thousands of acres of land there in 1783and the graves of his wife and daughters remain there. The chimneys of a few slave cabins are all that is left from the island’s years as a cotton plantation before the Civil War.  Its next use was as a rich man’s playground. The rich Carnegie Family built Plum Orchid which was a massive home of 22   thousand square feet.

In the 1880’s Thomas Carnegie who made his fortune in the iron and steel industry just when the first building boom was happening in America, bought up most of Cumberland Island.  Mansions were built for his children including Plum Orchard. You see when homes are filthy big they don’t have addresses they have names of their own. So the gilded age of the Industrial Revolution was brought to the simple nature refuge. What a wonderful combination of elegance and superior accommodations surrounded by nature’s plenty.

 It is what all of America should have been preserved as instead of the suburban wastelands of McDonald's crappy food restaurants surrounded by poorly built suburban tiny homes for ordinary lazy people. Americans should work hard and be as ambitious as they can possibly be and preserve all our beautiful natural waters and wealth of wildlife and live in fine homes surrounded by every comfort and latest invention for our pleasure.
In 1959 a major mansion burned to the ground and by then the families fortunes were in decline. There are still descendants of the Carnegie family living on the island that find a sense of purpose with nature there and comfort. The latest generation treasure natural artifacts from the island like shark teeth and beautiful shells than gold or silver or gem stones that most wealthy people treasure. No one ever kills any animal on the   island . There is a mutual respect and neither species feel threatened.

What does go to ruin is the old beautiful buildings gone to demolition by neglect. No one is there to refurbish the building so eventually they just fall down or must be destroyed for safety reasons. One of the mansions pool house just was destroyed to dust. The people making the decisions to destroy what is left of what once was privately owned property is the National Parks Service. In 1972 to prevent the island from being developed again, the Carnegie family just gave the land under the majestic buildings to the Parks Department.  Find time to visit before it is all gone to budget cuts.

No comments:

Post a Comment