Cumberland Island

CI Horse

One of the famous wild horses of Cumberland Island, grazing on the south lawn of Plum Orchard mansion.

Madge is still on her mooring ball in the St. Marys River, and we haven’t moved aboard full time yet, but we’ve started our exploration of the Georgia barrier islands. Our first destination is pretty close to home. Cumberland Island, a national park and seashore, is just across the sound from St. Marys. It is the southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands. As I mentioned in a previous post, Suzy and I volunteered to help the Park Service decorate Plum Orchard mansion on the island for Christmas. While we’ve been to Cumberland several times, we’ve never been to Plum Orchard. The mansion has recently been restored, and is the only Carnegie mansion on the island that is unoccupied and open for tours; however, it’s hard to get to because it is 7.5 miles from¬†the northmost ferry dock, and the road is little more than a washboard dirt track through the palmettos. Years ago, Suzy and I anchored our previous sailboat, Skitso, in the Brickhill River at Plum Orchard, but that was before it was restored. We could only see the outside. We’ve wanted to return ever since.

Wednesday¬†was a warm, windy, overcast day. We left Madge at rest and took the ferry with the other Park Service volunteers we’d be helping (about 20 of us, total), then hopped in a van for the slow, bumpy drive from Sea Camp dock to Plum Orchard. We didn’t mind that we wouldn’t get to visit the beach or the Dungeoness ruins on this trip — we’d seen them before. We immediately went to work, but it wasn’t so frantic that we couldn’t take a minute here or there to look around and appreciate the place. We had to take a break when a tour came through, so we grabbed our phones and started taking pictures.

Plum Orchard Full Front

The south-facing front of Plum Orchard overlooks a spacious lawn.

Plum Orchard Interior

The mansion features oak floors and mahogany workwork. This hallway runs from the Library, just off the main foyer, to the Music Room, which opens to the west portico.

Plum Orchard Side w Suzy

The west portico, off the Music Room, overlooks the Brickhill River, which runs along the west side of Cumberland Island.

Plum Orchard Anchorage

The old ice house sits atop a new sea wall along the bank of the Brickhill River. Years ago, we anchored our boat, Skitso, at a spot about in the center of this picture.

At the end of the day, heading back to Sea Camp dock for the ferry ride home, we encountered more horses and a lot of turkeys. Deer and wild boar are the only hunted animals on the island — and then only under limited and strict conditions — so the turkeys have no fear of humans, even this close to Thanksgiving.

One thought on “Cumberland Island

  1. Mike Duggan

    Hi Michael and Suzy, It was good to see you both at Christina’ s performance the other night, that was very gracious of you. We hope you enjoyed the evening. I would imagine St Mary’s is starting to get crowded in anticipation of Thanksgiving. We wish you a Happy one! I scanned a couple of your blogs and plan on starting at the beginning to get up to speed. All the best, Mike and Christina

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