Fort Frederica National Monument was built by James Oglethorpe, a British general and founder of the colony of Georgia. He chose the site on St. Simons Island to defend the colony’s southern border against encroachment by the Spanish in Florida.
But the Spanish continued to challenge Britain’s right to Georgia. In a bitter battle fought in 1742, British forces pushed back the Spanish once and for all, confirming Georgia’s place among the British colonies. It was the first and only battle ever fought at Fort Frederica.
Abandoned shortly after the battle, the fort soon fell into disrepair. In 1820, materials from the fort were used to construct the first lighthouse on St. Simons. A sign now marks the excavated ruins of the lighthouse, which was destroyed by the Confederate Army in 1862.
The ruins lie in the shadow of the “new” brick lighthouse, built in 1872 and still operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Those who can walk 129 steps to the top will enjoy a sweeping view of the island.
A self-guided tour of the fort begins with a short film about the local history. Artifacts found at the site are also on display. From the fort, you can explore the beaches, bike paths, and hiking trails on St. Simons Island. Bring your fishing rod and pick up bait at the pier—the waters are filled with sea bass, redfish, grouper, snapper, tarpon, and other delicacies.
If You Go:
Come prepared to do battle with bugs. Mosquitoes, chiggers, sand fleas, ticks, and biting flies can mar your visit, particularly in the warmer months. The best offense is a good defense: Wear long pants, long sleeves, and repellant with DEET.