Getting on/off the trolley at various points; total ride is approximately 15 miles; about 1.5 hours. Walking approximately 1.5 miles total throughout the day, with places to rest; periods of standing up to 1 hour. At Fort Clinch, stairs are steep and narrow, railings are absent, walkways are uneven with many trip hazards; two large ramps give access to the rampart and gun deck.
Today will be a day of fascination and historical adventure. Through an expert-led history lecture in the classroom, we will learn about the history of the eight flags of Fernandina. First populated by the Timucuan Indian tribe, the area eventually became known as the “Isle of 8 Flags.” Since 1562, it has had the flags of France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Patriots of Amelia Island, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States flying over it at one point or another. Afterwards, our trolley will meet us at the hotel for a field trip, during which we will explore the downtown historic district of Amelia Island. As we go, our expert will share the story of the visionary whose exhilarating dream so stirred his neighbors that they agreed to move their entire town to the site of a plantation he owned, thereby creating "New" Fernandina in the 1850s. From the "giant" Timucua Native Americans, to Spanish and French explorers, to the lawless spirit of pirates, to the dignified air of Victorian-era residents, Amelia Island has been home to diverse cultures that have left a truly exciting heritage. We can expect the rare privilege of observing the uniquely gracious and historic homes of another century. As we continue, we’ll allow ourselves to get in touch with efforts to preserve the nearly extinct, pristine architectural styles within a small, gifted American town struggling to retain its fragile sense of family and community, as well as its birthright and historical integrity.
At a popular local restaurant located inside a charming historic downtown building, we’ll enjoy delicious plated meals from a select menu with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. An eclectic palette of colors, furnishings and a large garden patio shaded by huge oak trees will invite us to a fun and unique culinary experience.
Fort Clinch State Park is a 1,086-acre outpost of pristine beaches and dunes, nature trails, ponds and salt marshes and the island's only campgrounds. While here after arriving by trolley, a re-enactor dressed in period uniform will take us back in time on a field trip around the fort while vividly describing what our ancestors may have experienced here. Named for General Duncan Lamont Clinch, an important figure in Florida's Seminole War of the 1830's who also fought in the War of l812, the fort is one in a system of permanent coastal fortifications. Construction began in 1847 and was occupied briefly by the Confederate forces while it was still being built until it was eventually overrun by the Union troops. It has been meticulously preserved and will provide us with a glimpse as to what life was like over 150 years ago. Close your eyes for a moment and you can almost hear the roar of the cannons! We’ll then return to the hotel.
We’ll then gather in the hotel meeting room for a presentation on island ecology given by a naturalist.