As much as I enjoyed seeing my brother on my trip to Gainesville this past weekend the primary focus for the trip was to visit Cumberland Island. I came across photos of the ruins on the Island years ago and have been dreaming of going there ever since. When I worked as an academic advisor I would sneak time in planning my dream trip. I calculated how much it would cost, travel times and everything I wanted to make sure I saw once I made it there. I’m not sure what drew me in so much about it but I was absolutely enchanted.
Happily, the actual visit there was just as dreamy as I imagined. The day started off early with a 5 a.m. wake up call in Gainesville. We headed out at 6 to make it to the ferry at St. Marys Georgia by 8:30 a.m.. The ferry ride took about 45 minutes and the weather could not have been more perfect for the outing.
Immediately after we docked I wanted to make it to the Dungeness Manor Ruins as quickly as possible. I hoped to get some great shots of the ruins before the other tourists arrived. We ferried over with about 50 other people and Josh and I were the second family there! I knew I was going to love the island the moment we started on the trail and saw this:
A few short minutes later and we approached the ruins. The Dungeness Manor was built in the 1880’s by Thomas Carnegie (brother of Andrew Carnegie.) It was modeled after a Scottish castle and had 59 rooms, pools, a golf course and 40 smaller houses to house the 200 servants that worked at the manor. After the stock market crash and the Great Depression the family abandoned the manor and most of it was destroyed by a fire in 1959 believed to have been started by a poacher who had been shot in the leg by a caretaker weeks before. Here she is in all her glory! (Photo credit)
And here is what remains of her today.
I got to admit I was pretty bummed that you couldn’t actually go play around in the ruins, but I’m sure it is a safety issue! This was as close as we were able to get:
I headed around back to check out the rest of the ruins and about fell over when we saw these wild horses just hanging out about 100 feet from the manor. I believe there are about 150 wild horses on the 18 mile long island so there is a good chance you will run into them while you are exploring.
After I calmed my inner 5-year-old girl at the sight of pretty horsies we started to wander around the island trails. We came across this collection of abandoned cars on our way to one of the cemeteries.
One thing we weren’t quite prepared for was the onslaught of mosquitoes! Thankfully I brought bug spray but they were still all over us. They were much worse on the trails than the roads, so we only stayed on the trail for about 20 minutes when we decided to get back on the main drag. Plus, Josh had to get a spider stick to knock the webs out of the way after he ran into a few face first earlier on the trail.
I also didn’t realize how diverse the island’s scenery would be. We’d be walking in thick woods and immediately come across a huge beach full of white sand dunes. Josh noticed these crabs first – hundreds of tiny little crabs with one giant hand that were absolutely hilarious to see. I actually googled ‘tiny crabs with one giant claw’ to find out what they were when we got home and they are Fiddler Crabs. How cute is that?
There was a boardwalk overlooking the marsh that linked parts of the woods with another beach area.
Honestly, this is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. The day went by so quickly and I’d love to go back and spend more time there before I leave this area. You can actually camp on the island – How incredible would that be?!
If you know of any abandoned places to visit in the South please let me know!
Have you ever visited ruins, or an island, before?