Colonial Georgia – Beautiful Savannah and Brunswick

Our nation’s third largest shipping port – Savannah Georgia as seen from the river walk. That’s the back of Karen’s head on the bottom left 🙂 That’s yet another US Highway 17 bridge in the distance along the coastline – tall for sure.

Between Savannah, GA, and Jacksonville, FL, is the city of Brunswick with four barrier islands: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. Spanish explorers were seeking gold more than 400 years ago only to find golden marsh land rather than gold.

Back in 2016 I added a line to the spreadsheet of places we might want to visit, noting a stay between Brunswick and Savannah Georgia could be a place from which to explore both Georgia colonial ports. These cities are a common stop for travelers heading up or down Interstate 95 on the way to or from Florida. And for sure, a place of vacation for others. Perhaps second only to the countryside of any Hawaiian Island, I found the historic district in Savannah to be the most beautiful city I have ever visited.

Locations mentioned in this blog post

The Next Chapter Blog mentioned McIntosh Lake RV Park in Townsend Georgia as being a reasonably priced stop between Savannah and Brunswick. Frankly, I had never heard of Brunswick Georgia and until visiting the location never had an appreciation for what it might offer. I’m glad we stopped in between and took day trips to both places rather than skipping over either location. We paid $252 with the weekly campground rate but ended up staying 14 nights which averaged $37.80 a night on full hookups parked on a grassy pad off gravel campground roads. This was the first time in a long time our RV park had a recreation hall with a comfortable sofa, TV and pool table. Atlantic beach areas and plenty to see is within 40 miles. We had a surprise earlier when our dear friends Ray and Charlotte called. They were delaying their return home to Traverse City Michigan due to winter weather and would be moving their motorhome more than 160 miles in the opposite direction to spend the week with us at McIntosh Lake RV Park.

Our spot McIntosh Lake RV Park – Townsend GA dead center between Savannah and Brunswick off I-95.
It’s not a real lake. More like a larger spring feed pond. Fished one day with no license required. I could see the big bass but caught none.
Local foods from “the famous” Georgia Peach World just off the I-95 exit on the way to the RV Park. The real attraction is the kids play area and petting zoo behind the business. There is no parking for larger RVs at the small store, but you might be able to park at an empty motel nearby and walk over.

St Simons Island – Near Brunswick Georgia

St Simons Island and Jekyll Island are the two popular sandy beach areas to enjoy the Atlantic. Jekyll, having been a playground for the rich and famous long ago, is more rustic and you can camp on it. Folks live all year long on St Simons and this is where we found Georgia colonial history. We spent little time in the town of Brunswick which was one of the original port cities during colonial times and later a major exporter of lumber. Timber from its strong oaks were used to build our nations war ships in the 1700’s.

East Beach St Simons Island- Go Here. Good parking, sandy wide beach, excellent parking with restrooms.
During our visit on East Beach dogs were allowed to run on the beach – off leash. Wyatt’s and his best friend Dixie had a wonderful time. Later in the season the city does not allow dogs to do this.
East Beach on St Simons Island is located next to the old Coast Guard Station which is the white Building and now houses the WW 2 Coastal Defense Museum. A German U-Boat had been sunk just miles off the coast of Brunswick. You can walk over to the museum from the East Beach parking lot.
Plenty of shopping and Georgia style restaurants to select from. We changed our minds and decided not to rent a golf cart to tour the town which has busy single lane, but well managed, roads. The north side of St Simons Island is quite and full of history. Speaking of food – thank you again Charlotte for the biscuits and gravy! I’m guessing Ray cooked the sausage so thank you as well.

Colonial Fort Frederica Settlement, On St Simons Island, Brunswick Georgia

I’ll explain shortly about British General Oglethorpe’s involvement in settling the Georgia Colony, the last of the empire’s colonies in North America and one of the original 13 with the establishment of Savannah. Fort Frederica was built in 1732 as a buffer between the Spanish of Florida and British Georgia. This area has strong religious ties. Accompanying General Oglethorpe were John and Charles Wesley, leaders of the evangelical movement and founders of the Methodist Church.

Visting the sites of these settlements, reading published original documents and witnessing the ruins, is a very good way to confirm what we learn from history books. I was completely caught off guard at Fort Frederica, thinking it would be just another pile of rocks (tabby actually). This was an archeological dig site. Uncovered are the foundation ruins of each building of the small settlement set among the backdrop of what remains of the fort’s powder magazine. Modern historians have a road map of what the place originally looked like. Each street is now grass and at the end are signs with the street names. As you walk along there are stops at each ruin to explain what the building was used for with small artifacts on display. This was a remarkable experience.

The Christ Episcopal Church congregation was established as a mission of the Church of England in 1736. The Rev. Charles Wesley conducted the first services in the chapel within the walls of Fort Frederica. After the Revolution, this and other churches of England formed the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States.

These are the street signs, marking the names of the old settlement’s streets
Down each street are the ruins of its buildings with details.

Located alongside the road to the Frederica settlement and Fort is the current Christ Episcopal Church built at the site in 1884. The grounds are magnificently landscaped. Unfortunately, the grounds were closed on Mondays when Karen and I visited it with our friends Ray and Charlotte. Well, there is a cemetery attached and it seemed legal to walk over the church grounds to pay respects, especially as there were no funerals being held that day. Outside the gated entrance was a tree and placard marking the area Rev. Wesley first preached at the location. I had been reading about the history of St. Simon and Georgia colony and over time got to recognizing names of noteworthy folks that lived in the area. Such as a minister’s wife who dedicated her life to a boy’s home and now, buried around her, are the same boys who grew and lived a productive life. A revolutionary war soldier, another who died in captivity during the civil war who had been an immigrant and more. I’m humbled by their achievements.

Anna Dodge – Gave her life’s work to raising orphaned boys.

Fort King George National Historical Site

Fort King George was built in 1721 by the British to watch over the inland waterway at St Simons Island. The fort is located on the mainland north of Brunswick. It was occupied for six years during which time 140 officers and soldiers lost their lives here and are buried on the adjacent bluff. The fort was placed to counteract French expansion and the area was first visited by the Spanish. After the fort was abandoned, British General James Oglethorpe brought Scottish Highlanders to the site in 1736 to setup a lookout post and lumber production.

Rebuilt block house on the right which solders fought from.
Recreated barracks
Fort King George was the southern outpost of the British Empire in North America and reconstructed using old records and drawings.
What is left to a lumber mill that operated for 200 years. In 1736 indentured servants of the Scottish Highlanders set up pit saws here and sawed lumber for houses in Savannah and Frederica. Fort George was the location of the first commercial manufacture of lumber in Coastal Georgia.

And Without Further Ado – Savannah Georgia

Near the end of the American Civil War, General Sherman of the Union Army took Savannah for his headquarters. In the south Sherman is most likely known as being the first asshole in a complete human form. At least he got one thing right which was believing Savannah is the most beautiful city he had ever seen and decided not to burn it to the ground. But that is just a glimmer of the city’s history…

Savannah is located 75 miles north of Brunswick off I-95. Established in 1733 it was Georgia’s first settlement and state capital. It was a planned city or in other words the town was designed with purpose and to be something different. From a drawing to a city. It was laid out to consist of wards seperated by common green spaces which are now parks every few blocks or so. It was designed to be a walkable city as well. Houses were close together because they needed no personal green space as the community used a common area. These square parks located throughout the historic district are beautifully landscaped.

In this plot plan you can see the 15 parks strategically placed in the center of wards.

Savannah was to be a utopia. Designed and settled under the leadership of British General Ogelthorpe, who was a Member of Parliament, and a person who sought to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. Slavery was outlawed in the beginning as was drinking rum. Savannah was first settled by 113 colonists and flourished. It became, and still is, a major shipping port in the south. The current river walk is below a main road and along the Savannah River. Shops are built into the old basement areas with other facilities above. The current city has a fun vibe about it in my opinion. This is a don’t miss stop.

Having only one day to spend in Savannah. Ray, Charlotte, Karen and I – along with the dogs, took the Old Savannah Trolly Tour. We paid to get on and off as we wanted to visit places along the route which was well worth it. Uniquely, at some stops characters in costume would step on the trolley. These were the famous people of Savannah, speaking in character about their life.
Typical shared garden space which shows up every few blocks in the historic district.
General Oglethorpe monument in a town square.
Savannah is home to a large art college
Savannah is well known for haunted buildings. This paint color on the shutters and door kept spirits out.
Portion of river walk.
Lunch on the river walk. Through the windows is a passing container ship, having just finished at the docks.
I had a good time walking next to a young police officer. I had asked why so many Sergeants on foot patrol. He said everyone is working 12 hour shifts with no days off because of St. Patrick’s celebrations. He wanted to work for the Sheriff but did not want to spend time working the jail. Made me think back a few years when I was that age and just getting started.
1700/1800’s bell which was rung when it was time to shut down at work.
Savannah is host to the countries 2nd largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The day after, the Navy brass band was still hard at it. They had energy and rocking songs.

We are leaving the Charlston South Carolina area on 4/3/22 taking a turn to the north towards Bristol Virginia and a couple stops in between. Trying to decide if I can handle the mountain grades on I-26 north of Ashville South Carolina into Johnson City Tennesse or if it is worth it to go 100 miles out the way and take the easier grade on I-77 through the Fancy Gap. Our diesel truck can handle it easy as we have 30% more truck than the trailer requires. My nerves will be the challenge:)

6 thoughts on “Colonial Georgia – Beautiful Savannah and Brunswick

  1. We loved visiting these two cities a few years ago. So much history and not enough time to see it all. I’d love to go back and spend several days exploring.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peach Cider, is my favorite. Being from east, NY & VT, we spent many vacations over the years exploring, up and down the coast. So much history and beautiful cities.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such an interesting area with all its history. We went through that area in the winter of ’18. We really enjoy seeing those areas in the off season but a lot of attractions were closed. We would like to go again someday.

    Liked by 1 person

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