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Discover Fort Frederica National Monument

Saint Simons Island, Georgia

based on 1 reviews


Added by Chris Moses

Explore the history of one of Georgia's oldest colonies at Fort Frederica National Monument. Located on Saint Simons Island, the fort is not only a historical treasure but also a natural gem.

Fort Frederica National Monument

Fort Frederica National Monument is a beautiful place to visit and is key in teaching children about the history of the Golden Isles. This Georgia historical treasure is not only a place I visited on my travels along the east coast but also a place that made me appreciate early American history. Growing up in Coastal Georgia I was fortunate enough to participate in a school system that spent time on teaching local history. Unlike most places in the south, these stories preceded the Civil War and the founding of this country. Fort Frederica is one of those stories, however, it is not just a tale to be found in history books but a living breathing park that you can visit today.

Creation of the Monument

Unfortunately, after war, fire and the passage of time only the magazine of Fort Frederica and part of the barracks were the recognizable buildings remaining. The rest of the town and fort have been laid to rest within the soil until the early 20th century. Luckily, in the early 1900s interest in the old historical site resurfaced and was inducted as a national monument under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Under FDR initial surveying of the site began through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which was part of the New Deal. It wasn’t until after World War II the National Park Service started their involvement and along with the Ft. Frederica Association used maps from the 1700s to excavate not only artifacts but also piece together the town’s history. In 1945 the National Monument joined the National Park Service. Finally, in 1966 Fort Frederica joined the National Register of Historic places.

In 1992, the National Park Service along with the Glynn County School System, established a program for 4th graders to learn about archaeology. Most of 18th century artifacts were originally discovered back in the 1950s and saved for educational purposes, however, the program did yield some unique finds. Unfortunately, in 2012 the program was disbanded due to budget cuts. In the summer of 2018, the first major archaeological dig in 40 years took place at Fort Frederica. To mark this occasion a new summer program was established. During the program the site welcomed 4th graders to participate in a staged dig, and 8th graders participated in the new excavation efforts.

History of the Fort and Town of Frederica

Fort Frederica shares a lot of its origin story with Savannah including its idealistic but military savy founder, James Edward Oglethorpe. The town and fort of Frederica was established as a buffer between the English in the Carolinas and the Spanish in Florida. The Georgian colony also served as a home for many British men and women that were released from the debtor's prisons in England. This colony also banished slavery within its borders. The territory of Georgia was to serve not only as a military stronghold but also a Utopia build on the principles of the new Great Enlightenment movement, which happened to be well defended. This fortification was made out of tabby, a popular building material in Coastal Georgia which is made out of oysters and other natural materials that is still used today. The town of Frederica at its peak was 500 people strong and was also home to 50 country acres for crops. The town had a similar grid layout to Savannah and included beautiful orange trees covering Broad Street. However, this utopia was not meant to last and in just a few decades all the triumph would be returned to the soil it was built on.

The beginning of the end for Fort Frederica came with the Battle of Bloody Marsh. Back in 1737, Oglethorpe returned to England to bring reinforcements to the fortification. The following year, he returned to the Island with 630 soldiers. By 1742, this force included local militia, Native Americans and Scots Irish volunteers from Savannah bringing the force to 900. Even though this number was impressive, it paled comparison to the 2,000 strong Spanish forces. However, through cunning maneuvers from Oglethorpe the British defeated the Spanish during the Battle of Bloody Marsh. A year after the battle, Oglethorpe returned to England to never see his beautiful colony again. In 1749, the regiment protecting Fort Frederica disbanded leaving the town without its major source of revenue. Almost 10 years later, things got worse for the remaining residents of Frederica when a major fire swept through the town destroying most of the buildings.

St. Simons and Frederica

Through excavations, several home foundations have been discovered and the site has become a step back in time with a little use of imagination. The park itself overlooks the river and is covered by the Georgian state tree, the Live Oak. Even though there are no hiking trails on the site, the town layout allows you to wander down the old town streets. Each foundation has a sign explaining the historical significance and some about the people who lived there. There is also a guided tour you can follow along with your cell phone. Inside the visitor center you can find a short 15-minute video to give you additional information on the park. The site itself is a short drive from the beach.

Fort Frederica is also the home of several living history events throughout the year, such as the Lime Burn and Town Life Event, and Colonial Days Living History Festival. For more information on any of these events I encourage you to check out the Fort Frederica website and plan your trip to the park with these events in mind. If you are a local or are traveling to Saint Simons for vacation, Fort Frederica National Monument is a hidden gem tour guides do not mention enough.

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Discover Fort Frederica National Monument Reviews

This National Park of course has amazing history and also has links to German Village (accessible off of Lawrence Road - near the SSLT Musgrove Preserve) where lived the economy providers for the fort - it seems like it truly was a sustainable village for a while; including its own German brewery ;). Despite all of the history, the site chosen along the Frederica River is a beautiful bend in the waterway (strategic for cannon balls into the sides of the boats of unwelcome visitors !) with sunset views west across the (salt) Marshes of Glynn (made famous by Sidney Lanier’s poem). If you get the opportunity to visit via water, you are in for a treat discovering the western edge of the island with nearby historic Ebo Landing on the Dunbar and jumping shrimp and fish, wandering crabs, and graceful dolphins all along the way!! To get involved even more with the preservation of similar but lesser known areas, go to/join SaveOurGateways.com. Enjoy the waterways and history of this unique island and coastal region! 🌴🍊🍋🦋

Leave No Trace

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