ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of St. George Island, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of St. George Island, Florida
St. George Island
One of the barrier islands of the Florida Gulf Coast,
St. George Island stretches off Apalachicola,
providing shelter to Apalachicola Bay.
St. George Island
Cape St. George Lighthouse,
destroyed by a hurricane, has
been carefully restored and
rises over the island.
St. George Island State Park
The park protects miles of
unspoiled beaches, keeping
them in their pristine state for
sun lovers.
William Augustus Bowles
A historical marker details the
shipwreck that cast infamous
pirate and adventurer William
Augustus Bowles ashore.
St. George Island, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Apalachicola Bay's Barrier Island
Apalachicola Bay
A long bring carries visitors
over the oyster grounds of
Apalachicola Bay on their way
to St. George Island.
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
A fragile and beautiful stretch of the Florida
coast, St. George Island is a 28-mile long
barrier island that separates Apalachicola
Bay from the Gulf of Mexico.

At its widest point, St. George is about 2
miles wide, but for parts of its length it is so
narrow that it is possible to look in one
direction from its center and see the gulf on
one side and the bay on the other. It is noted
for its beaches, shells and history.

The island appears on some of the earliest
maps and charts of the Gulf of Mexico and it
its name - St. George - is a holdover from the
early Spanish exploration and settlement of
Florida. The ill-fated explorer Panfilo de
Narvaez and his men sailed their crude
barges past its shores in the early 1500s.

By the early 1700s, St. George Island offered
a sheltered harbor for small Spanish vessels
making their way back and forth between St.
Marks and Pensacola. An account written in
1722 mentions the island and describes the
"country house" of a Spanish lieutenant just
across the bay, probably in the vicinity of what
is now Magnolia Bluff.

Early Native Americans used the island as a
place to hunt, fish and collect oysters. They
also likely traded with European vessels.

In 1799 it achieved significant note in history
when the British warship H.M.S.
Fox was
wrecked at Fox Point (named for the ship) on
its eastern end. Among the castaways who
dragged themselves ashore was the famed
adventurer and pirate, William Augustus

Having escaped from a Spanish prison,
Bowles was on his way back to Florida - with
assistance from the English - to resume his
efforts to establish a Native American empire
and wrest the colony from the Spanish. He
was the self-proclaimed "Director General of
the State of Muskogee" and his pirate ships
operated from the Apalachicola RIver and
Apalachicola Bay.

In 1814, British troops briefly used St. George
Island as a supply depot before moving 30
miles up the Apalachicola River to Prospect
Bluff where they built a strong fort. It was at
this post that they trained a large force of
Creek, Seminole and Choctaw Indians along
with free blacks and runaway slaves to fight
against the United States in the closing days
of the War of 1812. The fort was left in the
hands of these allies when the British sailed
away in 1815 and became known to U.S.
authorities as the "Negro Fort."

In July of 1816, a small flotilla of U.S. Navy
joined with army troops in destroying the fort.
The ruins can now be seen at
Fort Gadsden
Historic Site.
St. George Island played an important role in
antebellum history. It provided shelter for the
steamboats and ships that carried cargoes
to and from the port of Apalachicola. At its
height, Apalachicola was the third busiest
port on the Gulf Coast.

Because the coast could be treacherous and
a number of shipwrecks were reported along
St. George Island, the U.S. Government tried
to assist navigation by building the
Cape St.
George Lighthouse in 1833. It was destroyed
by a storm in 1846, replaced in 1848, but
leveled by a hurricane just three years later. A
third lighthouse was built in 1852 and lasted
until it too fell to a storm in 2005.

In one of the most remarkable preservation
efforts in Southern history, however, the Cape
St. George Lighthouse stands again, this
time in the heart of St. George Island. The
bricks from the 1852 light were salvaged and
used to reconstruct it on the original plans.

St. George Island is accessible by bridge via
S.R. 300 which connects with U.S. 98 in
Eastpoint. In addition to the lighthouse, there
are beautiful beaches, restaurants, hotels,
rental homes, parks and St. George Island
State Park, which protects miles of unspoiled
white sand beach.