Evidence of life on St. Simons Island stretches back quite a long time. Artifacts dating as far back as 2500 BC have been found, and many more from other periods between then and now have been unearthed, placing the start of St Simons Island history thousands of years before the United States even existed. It’s speculated that multiple Native cultures were displaced or died out over the years, leading up to the arrival of the first Europeans to see the area.
The Spanish established their first mission on the island sometime between 1597 and 1609, and several bloody conflicts ensued between the Spanish and English, each with their own different groups of Native American supporters. Conflict between these two parties would persist until 1742, where the English officially pushed the Spaniards out for good.
Though not a significant factor in the war itself, St. Simons Island did see some naval warfare during the Revolutionary War, where colonial trips inevitably won a hard-fought battle over British ships using clever tactics in restricted waters using their more maneuverable vessels.
St. Simons Island had a burgeoning cotton farming industry for quite some time, but when the Civil War finally made its way there, the island was abandoned when Robert E. Lee ordered the local troops to relocate in the defense of Savannah. Before the plantation owners fled the island, they destroyed the lighthouse to prevent Union troops from using it, and the island would remain under Union control for the rest of the war.
With their plantations now in ruins, the economy on the island was dead for quite some time, with former slaves establishing a community of their own on the now-abandoned island.
Lumber harvesting would then become St. Simons new main export, giving rise to new industry with their hardy lumber being shipped out to help build structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge. Though right around the turn of the twentieth century, this industry too would die out, the island wouldn’t remain dormant this time and the history of St Simons Island, GA would continue.
The Rise of Tourism
As early as the 1870s, construction had begun on St. Simons Island. The south end of the island was building summer cottages, and a village had begun to grow on the island to help support this growing industry. Before the year 1900 had even come, St. Simons had its own pier, hotel, and park. Aside from one hiccup in WW2, when German U-boats sank a couple of oil tankers, the island has remained peaceful, and its tourism industry has steadily grown into what we see today.
Come Witness History Firsthand
Many of these historical events and findings still have their own presence on the island, and you’ll have the chance to learn more about them when you come and visit. Get in touch with one of our agents, and we’ll make sure you’re matched with the perfect home for your visit to historic St. Simons Island, best to be enjoyed in one of our St Simons Island rentals with pools!