Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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(Lands & Legacy Tour, continued from the previous page.)

This is the general route we took from the Sea Camp dock to the north end of the island and back; I used two map sections so you can read them:

Hopefully that configuration will show properly on your computer or device! I usually center the photos but the easiest way to make the road align in both sections was to place the north end to the right and the middle part of the island to the left. You can see the full map of the island at this link.

We first rode north on the main island road for about 15 miles to the farthest point in the tour, the old "Settlement." The small houses in this village were home to the servants and other workers at Dungeness, Plum Orchard, Greyfield (all those were owned by the Carnegie family), and other mansions on the island.

It's also the location of the little First African Baptist Church, now better known as the venue for John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s wedding:

All of us in the van had heard tales about the eccentric elderly lady named Carol who continues to live in The Settlement. She has worked hard all her life to conserve the island. Although some of the property owners don't like even the maximum limit of 300 visitors a day to the island, Carol is on good terms with the National Park Service staff.

We didn't see Carol but could see her property from the unfurnished house we were able to tour:

Only a few houses remain in The Settlement. This is one that was not restored:

On the return we stopped at the Cumberland Wharf ruins (now just some pilings and a view of the Cumberland River).

We passed Robert Stafford's plantation and got out to see the little family cemetery:



Colorful shells in the old tabby wall around the cemetery

We spent the longest time at Plum Orchard, a Georgian Revival mansion built in 1898 for the Carnegie's son George and his wife. When he died a sister also lived there.

The property was donated to the Park Service in 1971.



Anyone on the island can show up and a volunteer named Jeanne, who lives on-site in January, February, and March, will show them around.

It's a large house -- 20,000 square feet -- and all of it except two renovated "apartments" for Jeanne and a law enforcement ranger are open during the tour.


It was interesting but since most of the furnishings are gone it's not elegant like the Biltmore estate in North Carolina and some other grand houses we've toured.

It was interesting to see the plumbing, electrical, generator, heating system, indoor pool, and other mechanical things. Some of the woodwork was really cool, too.

Pretty potty in the basement

Ranger David looks at an old engine in the basement.

Small swimming pool in the basement

I enjoyed walking around the property outside during our lunch break. The estate, which borders scenic Cumberland Sound, is mostly covered with sprawling live oaks dripping with Spanish moss:

When we got done with the tour we had some extra time before the afternoon ferry returned passengers to St. Mary's. Some of us got off at the Dungeness ruins, wandered around by ourselves, and walked to the Ice House dock. The others chose to walk out to the beach from the Sea Camp ranger station and caught the ferry from the Sea Camp dock.

This is the route I took from the Dungeness ruins, pergola, greenhouse, and boat dock out to the beach via the marshlands and back to the Ice House dock, a distance of about three miles:





Race ya back to St. Mary's!

On the tour we saw lots of song birds and about twenty feral horses. All but four of the horses were in the northern herd; they were mostly in small groups.

David (ranger) said the horses that live in the northern part of the island tend to look better and be more healthy than the ones in the southern part but I couldn't tell any difference from the ones I've seen in the south on five trips to the island.

Lush tail on a handsome wild "northern island" horse near the Stafford mansion

While wandering near the marsh at Dungeness I saw four horses 'way out in the marsh, which surprised me. David says they eat marsh grasses about like moose. The ones we saw on the tour had mud to their knees, so I shouldn't have been surprised.

On my walk a the end of the tour I also saw a pelican at the former Dungeness dock, a raccoon near the pergola, and an armadillo along the sandy roadway.



I really enjoyed the Lands & Legacies tour and highly recommend it to others who are interested in the history of the island and want to see more of it than is readily accessible by foot.

[Ironically, Ranger David and his wife own a house only a few miles from the one we sold in Virginia. His wife works in that area. David works at warm-weather national parks in the winter and closer to home along the Blue Ridge Parkway the rest of the year. While working at Cumberland Island he's living in a motorhome at a private RV park close to Kings Bay. I saw him again on the next trip I took to the island in March, shortly before he was due to head back home.]

Photos from my third day trip to the south end of the island continued on the next page (these scenes are all new) . . .

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil