Visiting Florida's state parks and beyond in our Roadtrek. This is how we saw it all. Hopefully, the posts will give you some useful information. Questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Back to Skidaway Island State Park, Georgia

Fantastic state park and campground.  This is a very family oriented park with great day visit facilities and a 70 site campground. There is a large playground, pavilions, picnic tables and grills and many miles of hiking and biking trails. The park is situated on an island just southeast of Savannah, affording plenty of interesting places to visit, places to eat and shop if you want to escape the campground for a spell. The historic section of Savannah is best seen using the trolley service. Pay once and get off and on as you like all day. To walk the district would take a while as there is a lot of history here with beautiful parks and architecture.  There are also a lot of interesting outlying places to visit.  There is a small bare essential camp store at the ranger station, but just down the street is a first class shopping center with a major grocery store, gas station, nice shops, and restaurants.


With the exception of five sites all the sites here are pull through. They vary from rather basic sand sites like our #11 to wood bordered gravel sites.   There are 30 amp sites and 50 amp sites. 17 of the sites have sewage. There are three bath houses that have washers and dryers. Two have been recently rehabbed. Hopefully the third will be done when we return. All are clean and well maintained.

There are 4 loops. The main road into the campground is like a highway compared to the individual loop roads. While all are paved and navigable some larger rigs would best take it slow. No bad overhangs. Some a bit bumpy from tree roots.

The weather had been such that the trails were pretty mushy for the most part and since we had been on them frequently (see my past blogs) we spent most of this visit in and around Savannah.

One of the places we like to visit in Savannah is River St.  Some neat old warehouse type architecture containing a variety of shops. Restaurants, bars, souvenir shops galore, clothing stores, decedent sweet shops, nut shops, ice cream...you name it. Best to spend the morning "touring" the street and lunch at one of the many eateries.  Or, afternoon, and have dinner and interesting nightlife. Old cobblestone street. The acid test for any vehicle suspension.

After a couple of wet days it turned nice and we walked the "promenade" across the street and along the river. Sat and people watched for a while.

And, on a whim took the Savannah Belles ferry, a freebie, to the two other landings. One across the river to the convention center in the background. And, then east to the 1996 Olympics Cauldron landing. See the Old Harbor Lighthouse and the famous Waving Girl Statue. Then return west to the starting port. Nice little boat ride. About 20-30 minutes long.

Looking toward the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. Beyond
the bridge are many deep water ports.

One of many container ships that stops at those ports.

Riverside view of the River St. skyline.

If you want a bigger boat take a cruise on the Georgia Queen 
stern wheeler. Nice day cruise, nice dinner date evening.

One set of stairs to the "upper city" I call it. I think this is the 
oldest, steepest, and narrowest staircase along the river street.

Street level - Factors Walk. The upper floor of the River St. shops. 
And East Bay St. Nice park, hotels, more shops and restaurants.

Savannah City Hall. 1900s building with gold leaf dome.

We often drove by the entrance to Fort Pulaski National Monument 
and it was closed for one reason or another, but not today.

The fort is on the way to Tybee Island. Well worth the stop. First stop the
visitor center.Inside is a theater with an excellent video giving the history
 of the fort built on an island for the defense of Savannah.


 Plus many visuals about the fort, a small souvenir shop, 
of course, and a ranger/volunteer to answer any questions.

 As you approach the fort you immediately see the uniquely shaped defense moat. The moat is 7 feet deep and 25 feet wide on the average. The diamond shape mound protected the drawbridge to the main entrance of the fort. Buried in the mounds are four powder magazines and passageways to several gun emplacements.

 To the right is the first bridge accessing the fort. There is a 
second larger one to the right at the base of the fort wall. 

Once in the fort you are on the parade ground.  Nice and pretty.  During 
wartime the Rebs dug trenches and built mounds to keep cannon balls 
from rolling when they landed after passing over the walls.

This is the man you want to meet. He gives an excellent walking tour that lasts about an hour depending the number of questions asked. A plethora of knowledge and entertaining. Never missed a beat.  Here he is explaining the guns and ammunition the fort used.  An interesting explanation of the old cannon balls and the "new technology projectiles" that used the barrel rifling principle. They were the downfall of the fort which was built to handily withstand the round cannon balls of the day.

Confederate Defense System. They erected a splinter proof heavy timber blindage 
to cover the interior perimeter of the fort to protect against shell fragments.

The Brig. After the surrender the Confederates were held
 prisoner in casements converted to a prison.

Ground level cannon casements in the bastion.

In the southwest bastion brick arches under the upper level are designed to support the several cannons on the upper level. The design carries the cannon's weight to the lower arches in the floor which in turn are supported by a timber grillage and piling driven 70 feet into the mud of Cockspur Island.  Amazing design for the day.

Stairway to the upper level of the bastion (terreplein) where the cannons  were
located around the fort. The fort was designed for 140 cannons,  but only 60  were
installed by the Union army. This did not change when the Georgia militia overran  
the fort.  And, again when the Union army took it back late in the war.

The South and Southeast walls that took the brunt of the Union army shelling 
from Tybee Island. The newly designed rifled shells, easily penetrated the 
20-25 inch thick walls. The union army rebuilt the walls upon capture,
but results of some of the 5275 shots fired can still be seen in the wall.

 The tidal gate to the canal that lets water from the Savannah River in and
 out of the moat with the tide. This maintained the moat level and also, 
provided a cleansing as waste water from the fort emptied into the moat.

The quarters of Confederate commander Col. Charles Olmstead. The commander surrendered to the Union army in this room on April 11, 1862 after 30 consecutive hours of bombardment.  The commander surrendered when the shelling approached the powder magazines and he feared for the lives of his men if the magazines took a direct hit.

Another historical site in Savannah is the Wormsloe Historic Site.  The plantation was created by Noble Jones who arrived in Georgia with James Oglethorpe in 1733 as the first English colonists to the state.  Noble Jones was a respected leader and led a small company of marines and Indian scouts to protect the waterways south of Savannah. After the war he established this plantation and experimented with a variety of crops. He served the colony as a militia officer, tithingman, constable, Indian agent, surveyor, treasurer of the colony and member of the governor's council.

The entrance to the plantation. The entrance gate was erected in 1913 by Wymberley Jones De Renne, Noble Jones's great-grandson, to commemorate his son's coming of age.  Just inside to the right is the Superintendent's Cottage. Built in 1917 it was used over the years by the estate caretakers and families that tended to the dairy.

Probably the most photographed area of the plantation. Overcast today, but beautiful on a sunny summer day. It is lined with over 400 live oak trees planted in the early 1890s to commemorate the birth of De Renne's son.  The road was probably used as early as the mid-1700s. The earliest reference of the road's use dates to 1816. It leads to the tabby ruins of Wormsloe, the home of Noble Jones.


A short walk down the road is an interactive museum with a diorama of the compound and artifacts from the area and era. Small, but well done.  Sign up for the walking guided tour of the highlights of the Noble compound. About 45 minutes.

 The remaining walls of Noble Jones's tabby house and compound. The compound included a 1&1/2 story house, an 8 foot wall with bastions on each corner, a cellar an outdoor double-hearth fireplace.

The thick walls of the house were built of tabby, a mixture of lime, sand, oyster shells and water.  Construction took over 6 years and more than 8000 bushels of materials to complete. It was twice the size required of contemporary homes in Savannah in the day.

Simulation of the small wattle and daub huts used as quarters for Jones' marines, indentured servants, and probably slaves.  This is an area called Colonial Life Area.  Other nearby structures include primitive covered shelters similar to what the settlers would use.  These are placed in three areas outlying the Jones compound called and History Camps. They are used for special events.

Ground floor of the one room houses. Behind and above is the sleeping loft.

Overlooking Jones' Narrow, a strategic water channel that was the main waterway for ships passing through the area in the 1700s.  It was patrolled in scout boats by Jones and his militia during the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-1748). It has not been used since the Diamond Causeway was built and today only the smallest of boats can navigate the waters.

One of many fallen trees along the marsh trail, one
of many interesting trails on the plantation grounds.

 View along another trail.

One of the buildings we missed seeing is the currently occupied Jones Family plantation house built in 1828.  From what we could see from the entrance road it is a beautiful, huge home.  Hard to see it from the entrance road for the dense growth over the years. Don't think they ever open it up to the public on special occasions. Too bad.