On Island

brick and stone ruins of a large mansion
The ruins of Dungeness Mansion on the Southern end of Cumberland Island.

NPS Photo

 

Dungeness Ruins

Visit the ruins of a mansion that was once called Dungeness. First built in 1884, the Dungeness Mansion was intended as a winter home for Thomas Carnegie (younger brother and business partner of Andrew Carnegie), his wife Lucy, and their 9 children. Though Thomas passed away soon after construction, Lucy Carnegie went on to spend more and more time and resources on the island estate. Several additions and remodels were made over the next thirty years. By the time Lucy passed in 1916 the mansion had grown to approximately 35,000 square feet. The mansion caught fire in 1959 and only the brick and stone walls remain.

Though the mansion is in ruins it still remains one of the most picturesque and visited spots on the island. Visitors can walk the grounds around the house and the numerous support buildings that were part of operating the estate.


Guided walking tours are offered when staffing permits. Visit the Guided Tours page for details.

Facilities, Services and Activities

  • Guided tours
  • Restrooms (located in the old laundry building)
  • Drinking water
  • Picnic tables
  • Cell phone tour
 
long stretch of undeveloped beach and dunes
Cumberland Island's long, undeveloped beach and dunes.

NPS Photo

 

Beach

Cumberland Island is home to 17 miles of uninterrupted beach. No docks, houses, or other structures interrupt its serene beauty. The island boasts a healthy expanse of vegetated dunes that make it one of the most important nesting spots for loggerhead sea turtles in all of Georgia, and a sanctuary for migrating shore birds.

Swimming is very popular, but caution should be exercised. It is the open ocean and all the tides, currents, and animals that call it home exist. There are no lifeguards. There are designated crossings marked on the map providing access to the beach. These will either be trails or boardwalks. If a boardwalk exists, please use it to help protect the dunes. Crossings on the beach side are marked with a black and white striped pole along the dune line.

Facilities, Services and Activities

  • Beachcombing
  • Swimming
  • Relaxing
  • Shell collection (must be unoccupied)
 
white, Georgian Revival style mansion under blue skies
Plum Orchard Mansion

NPS Photo

 

Plum Orchard Mansion

Construction of the mansion began in 1898, as a wedding gift for George Lauder Carnegie and Margaret Thaw. The architecture firm Peabody & Stearns was employed to design the original home, as well as the additions that were made over the next two decades. The house served as the couple's primary winter residence until George's passing in 1921.

Visitors can take a free tour of the 22,000 square foot mansion. On display are the architecture, furnishings, and machinery that made operation of the house possible. Plum Orchard offers a glimpse into Edwardian High Society at the turn of the 20th century and the importance of recreation, indulgence, and rejuvenation in nature. But further exploration tells the story of a family who valued the island, and their time spent with friends and family there.

Located 7 miles North of the Sea Camp dock (14 miles roundtrip). Due to the distance, day visitors should plan accordingly. No drinking water in route.
Estimated roundtrip time:
  • for biking, 3 - 5 hours.
  • for hiking, 8 - 10 hours (not recommended for day visitors).
Free tours are offered daily. Visit the Guided Tours page for schedule and details.

Facilities, Services and Activities

  • Guided tours
  • Restrooms (located on the back porch)
  • Drinking water
  • Picnic tables
  • Second floor is not wheelchair accessible
 
Single room church with white walls, wood floor, altar and pews
The interior of the First African Baptist Church on the North end of Cumberland Island.

NPS Photo/Mark Gabrynowicz

 

The First African Baptist Church

This humble, one room church was established in 1893 by African American residents of the island and their families. Some of the founders were born into slavery and emancipated following the American Civil War. The church served as a free place of worship and community center for the Northend community known as the Settlement. The church was rebuilt in the 1930’s. It was the site of the September 1996 wedding of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.

Located 14 miles North of the Sea Camp dock. Due to the distance, day visitors should not attempt to visit the church unless taking part in the Lands & Legacies Tour. The doors are open. This facility is not staffed.

Facilities, Services and Activities

  • Restrooms (located in the adjacent Alberty House)
  • No drinking water
 
Ranger station with large front porch and rocking chairs
Sea Camp Ranger Station

NPS Photo/Audrey Bohl

 

Sea Camp Ranger Station

Sea Camp is the primary information and contact station on the island. Volunteers and Rangers are available throughout the day to provide assistance, information, recommendations and programming. The thirty minute "Dockside" ranger program is offered everyday at 4:00 pm, prior to final ferry departure.

Located next to the Sea Camp dock. The doors are open daily, from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm. The ranger station may be unattended for periods during the day while staff carries out their duties.

Facilities, Services and Activities

  • Touch table & kids activity books

  • Junior Ranger Books

  • Brochures & Maps

  • Wildlife guides/reference books

  • Ranger programs

  • Camphosts

  • Air Conditioning

  • First-aid

  • Restrooms & drinking fountains

 
Exhibit display with horse cart, building materials, and ice moving equipment
Exhibit panel inside of Ice House Museum showing images and historic items from 20th century estates on the island.

NPS Photo

 

Ice House Museum

The original structure was built around 1900 - with a ventilated roof and walls 2 foot thick with sawdust insulation - to store large quantities of ice that were shipped to the island for the Carnegie Estate. The building was restored by the National Park Service and now serves as a small, self guided museum.

Located next to the Dungeness dock. The doors are open daily, from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.

Exhibits include:

  • A timeline of island history
  • The Carnegies and the Many Mansions
  • Archeology on the island

Facilities, Services and Activities

  • Exhibits
  • Cooling room (Summer only)
  • Restrooms & drinking fountains

Last updated: July 24, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

101 Wheeler St
St. Marys, GA 31558

Phone:

(912) 882-4336

Contact Us