Thursday, December 25, 2014

St. Simon's GA - downtown, erosion control, horse rescue, king and prince

     This is our third day on St. Simon's, and the heavy rains finally broke this morning.  Here is the island's lighthouse, built in 1872 to guide ships into the St. Simon's Sound.  There was an earlier one on this site, but it was knocked down by Union troops during the Civil War.

     Downtown St. Simon's has a nice environment with a variety of specialty shops and restaurants.

    There is even a row of "tiny shops" that house an eclectic variety of specialty businesses.

     Up the street is t he old Coast Guard Station, one of numerous built in this same style back in the 1930's.  This area was a bit of a hot-spot back in the 1940's as German submarines sunk a couple of US ships just off the coast here.

     There are only a handful of these old stations still standing - I am sure we will encounter a couple of them as we head north next spring.

     By the heart of the downtown district is a large community pier.  This is the fourth pier here - earlier ones having been destroyed by hurricanes and fires.

     There is also a real nice community park that runs along the sound.

     Here is a photo of the result of the last large hurricane that hit here.  It was in 1898, and this photo was taken  about ten miles inland in Brunswick.

     These islands are susceptible to  hurricanes, but as we have seen time after time along the coast they erode with the normal currents as well.  Here are a couple of shots of the current sea-walls that residents have installed in an attempt to keep the ocean from washing away their property.

     Now, I am far from an erosion control expert, but I met a couple who had made it their life's business a few years back.  Meet Herb and Anita Campbell.

     Herb is 89 and a half years old - he tells me that the very young and the old pay attention to  half years.  I didn't ask Anita her age, but they make a great couple.  They had me over to their house for a dinner of scallops so you know I love 'em.

     Herb was a civil engineer - in fact he served in the Pacific Theater in World War II.  He helped build a number of the airports and other facilities on the various Pacific Islands that helped us win that war.

     Herb likes to tinker, and some decades ago he was struggling with this problem of beach erosion.  He set up some models in his basement and tried various designs of sea-walls that could help stop the issue.  He hit upon this design:

     Now, that was a model  he made out of latex for testing and demonstration, but here is what the real thing looked like as it was being built on a beach.

     They had big forms made and poured these concrete sections.  The sections were then interlinked to form the break wall.

     They bought a huge front end loader that had been designed for strip mining in the coal industry.  They used to take it clear out to where not much besides the seat of the tractor was above the water.  They lovingly dubbed this machine "Shamu" because of how reliable it was.

     Now, here is where that break-wall was installed locally on another island- only a few years later.  His design would trap the sand using the action of the waves, and where a beach was eroding it now grew larger.  In this one spot they gained over three acres of beach, and condominiums are now built here.

     They installed numerous of these break-walls until his patent ran out.  Back then, an international patent cost almost a hundred thousand dollars, so they couldn't protect his patent for long.  But none of the many beaches they created have had troubles since.  I know this would be a bit of an expensive solution, but with the cost of ocean front real-estate it seems it would be worthwhile for many of these islands.  Perhaps we will see a return to this ingenious design in years to come.  After all, a million here and a million there spent replenishing the beaches turns into real money over time . . 

     I met another couple of islanders that work on something interesting.  Meet Natalie Murrah.   Natalie's great great grand-father was born on Fort Frederica a couple of centuries ago - this family has a long history on this land. 


     She and her father Bascom are working to carry on an effort started by her mother over ten years ago.  

Bascom Murrah

     On a quiet corner of this Island, the Murrah's run an effort to help abused and abandoned horses.  They started a non-profit named "The Farm at Oatland." 


     There are fifteen rescued horses on the farm right now.  This one is a relative of Secretariat's - the legendary racing horse.  This relative didn't fare as well.  It took a spill on the race-track and broke its neck.

     It was then taken by a girl who thought she could use it to do the show jumping - but a horse with a broken neck is not capable of that.  So it ended up here, along with this Belgian rescued from Pennsylvania.

     All of the horses here have their particular tale of woe - one was a retired police horse that was abused, another they found in a stall clear up to its knees in feces and muck.

     They have even  rescued a few goats - one was "arrested" by police in a local  town as it wandered through the streets.  Their kindheartedness got me so fired up that I wanted to get in on the act and rescue this bird out of  this tree - but it didn't seem to want my rescuing.

     They have to turn down many calls because they cannot afford the vet bills and feed for more horses.  But there have been some donations, and maybe more will come.  This place is called "The Farm" and is right beside the entrance to Cannon's Point.  Natalie and her dad give tours on Sunday afternoons - it is a beautiful spot to visit even if you don't like horses.  And goats. And cows and cats and dogs and chickens and deer . . .

     This area has its share of upscale spots, which tend to blur together for me after a while.  A golf course, a marina, a tennis court and a clubhouse are a bit redundant after a while.  But probably the most posh spot on this island isn't hidden  behind gates and fences.  It is The King and Prince Hotel.

     This place got its start as a dance hall back in the 1930's.  It was used for a few years by the military during WWII, but has operated continuously since as a hotel.  Here are a few shots of the interior.

     Heated pools overlook the ocean - which is hidden behind the morning fog in this shot.

     There are a lot of amenities, and the hotel owns a golf course on the other side of the  island.  They are listing rooms for $ 120 a night - probably not bad if this is what you are after.  I  loved their ginger-bread house.

      Today's parting shot comes from a local t-shirt shop.

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 Friday !!


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