Just off the Georgia coast, Cumberland Island National Seashore provides a glimpse of resort living during the gilded age. Its unspoiled beaches and lush marshes are accessible only by ferry. The Spanish-moss laden forests and historic ruins are teeming with animal life, including loggerhead turtles and wild horses. The island also serves as an important stopover point for migratory birds.
In addition to a rich wildlife habitat, Cumberland Island has 87 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places that reflect four centuries of North American history. Settlement by Spanish explorers began in the 16th century and plantations flourished after the Revolutionary War. At the end of the Civil War, freed slaves formed a settlement here, but the island was largely abandoned until the 1880s, when the Carnegie family established a lavish estate on land from two defunct plantations.
Contributions from the Carnegie family and Mellon Foundation, in conjunction with the work of dedicated environmentalists and the National Park Service, saved Cumberland Island from development in the 1970s. In 1972, Congress designated Cumberland Island a National Seashore to preserve this secluded treasure.