Wednesday, December 24, 2014

St. Simon's GA Cannon's Pt and Epworth

    On the northern end of St. Simon's Island a long peninsula juts out into the tidal marsh. This was the location of a family named Cannon's cotton plantation.  Here is an artist's rendition of what the main house looked like.  There are only ruins of the foundation and the fireplace left.

     Two edges of the 600 acres of land are defined by the Frederica River, and dotting the property are Indian shell rings and middens that date back thousands of years.  The property was acquired by the St. Simon's Land Trust from Wells Fargo Bank two years ago for the sum of $24 million.  There is a lot of work going on by the community to preserve the ruins here and create a fine educational facility.  There are numerous volunteers that make themselves available on Saturday's and Sundays to answer visitor's questions.

     By the entryway is this sign that has been built that shows in relief the outlines of many of the bird species that call this home.  I saw several of these on my visit, but was never quick enough with the camera to get a good shot.

     Just beyond the visitor's center is a gate, and from there a dirt road leads the two miles back to the ruins of the main house.  Along the way are ruins of slave cabins and various worker's cottages.

     The walk back is really quite nice - this is coastal hardwood forest.  The busy-ness of life soon falls away and you can start sensing the rhythm of the forest.

     Tidal creeks are all along two edges of it, and the side trails lead to numerous scenic over-looks.

     It has been pouring torrential rain for two days here - I was lucky to find a window of light rain to walk out in.  As I was exploring a side trail, the clouds parted the slightest bit and a shaft of light appeared in front of me.  It created this surreal looking scene.

     As ruins go, there are actually a number of bits of the main house's foundation left.  There is a picnic table out at the end of the trail - very welcome after the walk back.

     If you look closely at the photo below, you can see how the smoke from the lower fireplace was routed around and behind the fireplace above it.  I have not seen a ruins before that you could see this so clearly.

     There are numerous little side trails you can take, and I chose to walk one of them back to the welcome center.  It is about five miles overall, but if you walk it remember that there are ticks and chiggers actively looking for flesh even in the winter.  Long pants and bug spray are a must.

     Another great place on St. Simon's is Epworth By The Sea.  This is a Methodist camp and convention center, founded in 1949, that is beautifully set up for all manner of activities.  It sits directly overlooking the Frederica River on the old Hampton Plantation.   This was more recently the site of a large lumber processing facility, a few ruins of which still dot the grounds. 

     In 1735, John Wesley and his younger brother came to this island from Savannah to minister to the budding population.  John is credited with founding Methodism - and it is interesting to note that the very name "Methodist" was used by his peers to denigrate his beliefs.  So, the church adopted the name used to ridicule it - a rather brilliant thing.

     John himself was very young when he was here, and was a bit more of an idealist than the settlers could tolerate.  He was upset that more of the settlers did not attend his service, so he petitioned to have a law passed banning hunting on Sunday.  When one of the settlers bagged a turkey on a Sunday, Wesley had him thrown in the stockade.  He didn't last long - as we saw the other day even the Dr.'s wife went after him.  He left here to return to Savannah, and then in discouragement he headed back to England.  He was heard to say "I came here to save the savages, but found it was I who needed saving."  Whether this referred to folks running him off or to a sort of spiritual awakening I don't know.  But he did not give up and Methodism has become a powerful denomination in its own right.

     There are four large hotel like  buildings overlooking the river.  I am told that the best room rates anywhere around can be had here, but I am not sure of what the arrangements to rent them are.  As close to Christmas as we are, it is tough finding people to ask questions.  

     There is a little chapel by the river also - quite picturesque inside and out.

     This is the first time I have seen white pelicans - and although they were out of the range of my camera, I shot a photo anyway.  Just as I shot the photo, a dolphin emerged in front of them.  It is a very pretty place, and you can see the causeway that runs out to St. Simon's in the background.

     An old church named "Lovely Land Chapel" graces the property, built in 1880 and claiming to be the oldest building on St. Simon's Island.  It derived its name from the Baltimore MD location of the first conference in 1784 that marked the founding of Methodism.

     There are a few buildings on the property that look to be tabby construction with wooden shingle roofs.  

     Having grown up in Ohio, I find it amazing that here I am in late December, seeing lighting and listening to thunder and enjoying flowers in bloom.

     There are numerous dorms, conference buildings and recreational facilities on the property.  Just outside the gates, the local garden club has taken it upon themselves to renovate two old slave cabins.

     I love the textures when you combine this old wood with tabby construction.

     For today's parting shot - back to Cannon's Point.  There are numerous walking trails on the property, named things ranging from "Bee-Keeper's Lane" to "Georgia Primeval."

     I knew the trail I was supposed to take as soon as I saw it though: 

     Hopefully the torrential rains let up soon - I get Cabin Fever quickly.  Or, Van Fever as it were.

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, Read Today's Meditation if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to . . .

Have an Awesome Christmas Eve !!

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