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Tybee Island, Georgia
Sea oats, sand, a swing and the sparkling Atlantic
Ocean convey some of the natural beauty and charm
of historic Tybee Island, Georgia.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Known for its wide sandy
beached and beautiful views
of the Atlantic, Tybee Island is
a popular family playground.
Tybee Island Lighthouse
The historic lighthouse is the
oldest and tallest in Georgia.
The bottom 60 feet date from
two years before the outbreak
of the American Revolution.
Tybee Island, Georgia - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Island Gateway to Savannah
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: February 27, 2013
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History on the Georgia Coast
Fort Screven Historic District
Concrete and steel artillery
batteries and other buildings
from Fort Screven still dot the
coast of  Tybee Island.
Savannah's Beach
With its beautiful beaches,
lighthouse, historic sites, pier,
restaurants, eclectic shops
and accommodations, Tybee
Island is a popular family
Tybee Island is a popular family vacation
area just east of the historic city of

Often called "Savannah's Beach," it is a place
where the Atlantic Ocean meets the wide
sandy beaches of a charming and historic
coastal community. What is now a family
playground, however, has a long and often
bloody past.

The Island was known to Native Americans,
the Spanish and pirates long before General
James Oglethorpe arrived in 1733 to found
the colony of Georgia. The Spanish explorer
and slave trader Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon
explored the area around Tybee Island in
1520 and a sea battle took place off its
shores during the 1600s when the Spanish
drove off French sassafras hunters.

When Oglethorpe and his colonists arrived
on the ship
Anne, they passed within sight of
Tybee en route to their temporary destination
of Port Royal, South Carolina. From there
they passed directly by the northern tip of
Tybee on their way up the Savannah River to
Yamacraw Bluff where the city of Savannah
stands today.

It was General Oglethorpe who first saw the
military value of the island and in 1736 he
ordered the establishment of a small fort and
lighthouse on its northern point. The outpost
was built too close to the shore, however,
and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean soon
began to wash against the foundations.

The first lighthouse collapsed in a storm in
1741 but was replaced by a 95-foot tower the
following year. This structure guided ships
navigating the mouth of the Savannah and
the coast along Tybee for the next 31 years,
but finally was replaced by a slightly taller
tower in 1773.

The bottom 60 feet of this 1773 lighthouse
serve as the base of today's Tybee Island
Lighthouse. It adds even greater historical
significance to the graceful tower, as this
bottom section survived not only the
American Revolution, but the War of 1812
and Civil War as well.

A Martello tower or fort stood near the
lighthouse during the 19th century and
Confederate troops occupied both in 1861,
only to evacuate them less than one year
later as Union troops prepared to invade
Tybee Island.

The Federal soldiers did come and used the
entire northern end of Tybee as a base of
operations for their plan to reduce
Pulaski on nearby Cockspur Island. Cannon
were emplaced on the west side of the
island and for two days in April 1862
engaged in a monumental battle with the
garrison of Fort Pulaski.

The rifled artillery firing from batteries on
Tybee Island breached Fort Pulaski and
forced its surrender, forever ending the days
of masonry seacoast fortifications.
more by clicking here.

The Tybee Island Lighthouse had been
damaged by the Confederates before they
evacuated the island, but was heightened in
the years after the war from its original 100
feet to today's 157 feet. It is open to the public
and can be climbed daily.
Please click here
to learn more.
The military history of Tybee Island, however,
did not end with the Civil War. The last
decades of the 19th century brought renewed
fear about foreign attacks on American ports
and the north end of the island became

A vital part of the nation's coastal defenses,
Fort Screven was activated at the time of the
Spanish-American War in 1898 and was an
active U.S. military post until the end of World
War II. It was a sprawling complex that
included housing, other structures and an
array of powerful artillery batteries designed
to protect the port of Savannah from enemy

Many parts of Fort Screven, which closed in
1947, can be seen today. Among these is
Battery Garland, which now houses the
Tybee Island Museum and is located across
the street from the lighthouse.

Even as Fort Screven continued to protect the
entrance to the Savannah River, the rest of
Tybee Island began to develop as a beach
resort. The first tourists came out by boat and
then by train to enjoy big bands, dancing and
the fresh sea breezes of the island. A road
was completed across the marshes in 1923
to connect the island to Savannah and the

Tybee Island today is a popular resort
community where thousands of people come
year-round to enjoy the atmosphere of a
family-oriented beach community. It features
a variety of accommodations, including
beachfront ocean cottages, and there are
restaurants, cafes, shops and a wide array of
other attractions.

The island is located at the eastern end of
Highway 80, 18 miles east of downtown
Savannah, Georgia.

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