History buffs will enjoy the ease of island hopping around Amelia Island, Florida. Simply drive over Amelia’s southend bridge to travel through the Talbot Islands (Big and Little), and Fort George Island.
About a 20-minute drive off Amelia’s southern tip (along Heckscher Drive) will transport you back in time when visiting the beautiful riverfront grounds at Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island, Florida. This historic site is said to be “the best example of an 1800’s sea island cotton plantation in Florida.” (WATCH KINGSLEY PLANTATION VIDEO below…)
Those with a fascination of the past will enjoy exploring the plantation grounds situated at the northern tip of Ft. George Island (at the Ft. George inlet), part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve administered by America’s National Park Service.
The historic plantation includes a planter’s house, kitchen house, barn, history garden (sea island cotton and indigo were the main crops), the ruins of 25 tabby slave cabins, and a dock on the river. Note that the plantation is open for self-guided tours daily for free, with plenty of informational signs explaining history. According to the Park Service, during Florida’s plantation period (1763-1865), Fort George Island was owned by several plantation owners. However, the property was named after Zephaniah Kingsley, who operated the plantation from 1813-1839.
Take a virtual trip now, to one of the oldest plantations in Florida, by viewing online video tour from the northeast regional center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, part of its “Virtual Field Trip Series.” Dr. James Davidson of the University of Florida discusses his work at the historic Kingsley Plantation site in northeast Florida.
UPDATE: Since this video tour was produced, the main plantation house at Kingsley has been refurbished and is open to the public for weekend tours (on a limited basis at 11:00 a.m. and 3 p.m.), but call ahead for reservations at 904-251-3537 or 904-251-3626.
According to the University of Florida, “The entire field of African-American archaeology can actually trace its origin back to Kingsley Plantation, where in 1968 Dr. Charles Fairbanks, former professor at UF, conducted the first-ever scientific excavation of a slave cabin.”
MORE ABOUT THE FLORIDA PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY NETWORK
The Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) was established by the Florida Legislature with the goal to “to help stem the rapid deterioration of this state’s buried past and to expand public interest in archaeology.”