The colony of Georgia was established by James Oglethorpe to be an alcohol-free utopia open to commoners in debtors’ prison back in England. The aristocrats quickly discarded those ideals and introduced slavery after founding a town on the Savannah River in 1733. That same year, to the south the Spanish constructed Fort Mose as a sanctuary to slaves who fled the British. In response, Oglethorpe created Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, with a palisade and 10-foot wide moat around the entire town. Further, he led an unsuccessful siege of St. Augustine, Florida in 1740. The Spanish retaliated, but were defeated at Bloody Marsh despite owning a two-to-one advantage in soldiers.
Museum, ruins of colonial fort, Bloody Marsh Battle Site
Fort Frederica’s regiment was disbanded in 1749 and the town was abandoned within a decade when it was mostly destroyed by fire. Today, visitors can walk the ruins underneath picturesque live oak trees draped in Spanish moss. Fort Frederica National Monument is part of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor that honors the unique traditions brought by slaves from West Africa and retained over the centuries on these isolated Atlantic coastal islands. Cooking gumbo with okra, weaving sweetgrass baskets, and using the word “guber” for peanut are all examples of how the Gullah/Geechee culture has survived into modern times.
A self-guided tour passes excavated foundations of the town underneath Spanish moss-draped live oak trees. During our visit in 2016, Hurricane Matthew had knocked down trees closing some of the trails.
The British established Fort Frederica to stop Spanish encroachment from Florida into their American colonies. The town that formed around the fort peaked at a population of 1,000. Today it is a beautiful setting with tabby wall ruins and Spanish moss-draped trees.
Spring and fall
None, there is no longer a toll for the F.J. Torras Causeway that accesses St. Simons Island.
All roads paved
Jekyll Island State Park offers camping 13 miles southeast of Brunswick, Georgia.
Fort Pulaski National Monument (Georgia)
Cumberland Island National Seashore (Georgia)
Fort Caroline National Memorial (Florida)
Explore More – Fort Frederica was named for which member of the British royalty?