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A Natural History of The Gold AT THE MARITIME CENTERen Isles
A Natural History of The Golden Isles Georgia's barrier islands are the mid-portion of the sandy barriers running from the middle of the South Carolina coast to the mouth of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida. St. Simons is the second largest of Georgia's 18 barrier islands, encompassing 31 square miles. The barrier island groups along the Georgia coast contain remnants of two sets of ancient islands. The older set of islands formed Georgia's beaches 35 to 40 thousand years ago-the late Pleistocene Epoch. During this time mastodons, long-horned bison, saber-toothed cats, and giant ground sloths ranged across North America. About 18 thousand years ago, during the Holocene Epoch, ice sheets that covered much of the continent began to melt and the sea level rose. Migrating Sea Islands formed when advancing seas transported sand around the back of the islands building them from behind while eroding them from the front. Around 4 to 5 thousand years ago, the sea level rise diminished, allowing the establishment of the islands in their approximate positions today. The Geology of the Georgia Tidewater The shapes and sizes of barrier islands are more influenced by storms, seasonal winds, tides, and shoreline engineering than by the global sea level rise. Water currents carry sand, which is deposited in shallow areas, shoals and spits, near barrier islands. The northern ends of barrier islands show the effects of accretion and erosion (sand building up and being taken away), which vary from island to island. Currents moving in and out of inlets collide with those moving along the face of the islands. The sand carried by the currents falls out and builds up shoals. Waves "bending" around these inlet shoals create swirling currents, which add more sand. These sand build-ups are not very stable. Water ebbing and flowing through Gould Inlet between St. Simons and Sea Island breaks shoal sand free. This sand drifts south, nourishing the beaches on St. Simons Island. Unlike North Carolina's ribbon-like Outer Banks, Georgia's barrier islands are short and wide. Because the Georgia coast is much farther from the continental shelf, the ocean drops off and offshore waves lose their intensity before reaching the islands. With the low wave attack, Georgia's islands can grow wider.
Phone: 912-638-4666
 
Address:
610 Beachview Drive
St Simons Island, Georgia 31522
 
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A. W. Jones Heritage Center
The A.W. Jones Heritage Center officially opened in April 2008. The 10,000 square foot center includes an entrance gallery, wonderful museum shop and a 1,400 square foot event hall which is available for rent. The second floor includes the Society’s administrative offices, a research library and the Society’s vast collection of objects, artifacts and archival materials from hundreds of years of coastal Georgia history. The A.W. Jones Heritage Center offers a large selection of collectibles, keepsakes and gifts for every member of your family. Carefully selected to enhance your museum experience, local artists and writers are featured. There is also a variety of books, replicas, uniquely branded apparel and a wide variety of gift items that will serve to remind you of your visit to the Golden Isles. Admission to the Museum Store is free.
Phone: 912-638-4666
 
Address:
610 Beachview Drive
St Simons Island, Georgia 31522
 
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East Beach Coast Guard Station
1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), authorized the building of 45 United States Coast Guard Stations around the country. Later that same year, Georgia Senator Walter F. George, and Georgia Congressman Braswell Deen obtained an $115,000 appropriation from Congress for the new Coast Guard Station and Boathouse to be built on St. Simons Island. Work began in the fall of 1935 and of all the stations built during that time, only St. Simons and two others are believed still standing. The East Beach site was chosen by Capt. M.T. Hite a civil engineer with the Coast Guard. The property was originally given to Glynn County for use as a park by Mrs. E. C. Bruce. When the government became interested in the site, she waived the stipulation concerning the tract and granted the county the right to donate it for the location of a life-saving station along with property from Mr. J. Hunter Hopkins. In February 1930, the Sea Island Company sold three plots of land to the United States Treasury Department for the total sum of $1.00 for a boathouse on the Frederica River, a short distance from the site of the life-saving station. The station and the boathouse had their "First Watch" on April 1, 1937. The St. Simons Island site was officially designated the East Beach Station, and was under the command of the Second United States Coast Guard District headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. When the station was first opened, the original beach front was located just a few feet from the front door. Since that time, sands have filled in the area currently between the station and the ocean (now the large parking lot). The original mission for the personnel at the East Beach Station was to watch for swimmers in distress, and log the passing of all planes and ships. In late 1930s and 40s, automobiles were allowed on the beach at low tide, and there are reports of some recreational car races. Log sheets from the early days of 1937-1945 reveal the daily lives of the Coast Guardsmen assigned to this station. A single ranking "Boson” supervised a crew comprised of 10-12 "surfmen” and "mates”. Among his other duties the Boson kept the log, assigned duties for search and rescue of missing fisherman, boaters and swimmers, help during local disasters including structure fires and road accidents, storm damage clean-up and any other "call for aid” the station received. However, life changed for the coasties stationed on St. Simons Island with the outbreak of WWII. In 1941, the United States Coast Guard was transferred from the Treasury Department to the War Department, under the auspices of the United States Navy.
 
Address:
St Simons Island, Georgia 31522
 
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S Simons Island Lighthouse Museum
The First Lighthouse (1810) On October 17, 1804, John Couper, a plantation owner on St. Simons Island, deeded four acres of his land, known as "Couper's Point," at the south end of the island for one dollar to the Federal government for the construction of a lighthouse. James Gould of Massachusetts was hired in 1807 by the Treasury Department to build the lighthouse and a one-story frame residence. Original specifications called for the lighthouse to be built of hard brick; however, for economic purposes, most of the material used in the construction was "tabby," a mixture of oyster shell, lime, sand, and water. The uppermost part (12_ feet) was constructed of the "best northward brick." The 75-foot tower, exclusive of the lantern, was an octagonal pyramid, 25 feet in diameter at the base, tapering to 10 feet in diameter at the top. The tabby foundation was eight feet thick at the base. An iron lantern ten feet high and eight feet in diameter rested on top of the brick and tabby tower, making the lighthouse 85 feet tall. Oil lamps were suspended on iron chains in the lantern. Appointed in May 1810 by President Madison as the first keeper, James Gould held this position at an annual salary of $400 until his 1837 retirement. In 1857, a third-order, double-convex Fresnel lens was installed that greatly improved the lighthouse's power and range. During the Civil War, the Macon Artillery troops and six field guns were stationed at Fort Brown to protect St. Simons Sound. In February 1861, Alexander Couper, son of John Couper, wrote to his brother, James, "I went down to the Island to the officers at 'Fort Brown'--they are comfortably situated in thatched camps. They have built two angles of eighteen-feet base as a breast work. The Fort lies just west of the lighthouse in a corner of Mr. King's field." (The Kings were the owners of Retreat Plantation, now the Sea Island Golf Club and Lodge) During the Civil War, the blockade of Federal ships and the subsequent invasion of Georgia by Federal troops forced the Confederates to evacuate St. Simons Island. Prior to leaving in 1862, the Confederates destroyed Gould's lighthouse so the Federal forces could not use it as a navigational aid. For the next ten years, Retreat Plantation's cotton barn served as a navigational reference for ships entering Brunswick harbor. The tall cotton barn was marked on U.S. government maps as "King's Cotton House."
Phone: 912-638-4666
 
Address:
610 Beachview Drive
St Simons Island, Georgia 31522
 
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The Maritime Museum Store
Each offers a large selection of collectibles, keepsakes and gifts. Carefully selected to enhance your museum experience, local artists and writers are spotlighted. There is also a variety of books, home decor items and apparel. Hours of operation: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 1:30 to 5 p.m.
Phone: 912-638-4666
 
Address:
610 Beachview Drive
St Simons Island, Georgia 31522
 

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