Sunday, August 13, 2000
- Amelia Island - Fort Clinch
- Fort George
- Tabby House
- Kingsley Plantation
I still had not managed to write about the previous day's activities and at the hotel (a Holiday Inn) the lines were busy for the BellSouth dialup lines so I couldn't update what I had to the journal. By 2:00 I still hadn't finished updating the journal but I decided I should head off to bed anyway.
In the morning we packed, checked out and after breakfast at the buffet at the hotel, we headed off towards Amelia Island.
The fort, used by both Union and Confederate soldiers, is said to be haunted by ghosts of soldiers who haven't left the fort. There is also a report of a woman ghost who may have been a nurse at the fort. And reports of the wailings of a baby who died at the fort in the 1920s.
We drive along A1A through Fernandina Beach to the 14th St. North Extention which looks like it leads into Ft. Clinch State Park, but it turns out to be the back entrance to the park and is closed to traffic. We turn around, head back through Fernandina Beach to Ft. Clinch Road which is the main entrance.
Once through the gate, we drive along the road, lined along both sides by a deep forest of towering trees. It goes back about two miles, a dark road where one can easily imagine being chased by the Headless Horseman. It then opens up into a parking lot for the fort. I park the car and again, load up on the camera equipment and we head off towards the fort.
The fort was never finished—you can still see the foundation for the officer quarters, although the other buildings, enlisted quarters, main office, jail and guard houses, were finished, along with the outside walls and bastions. One of the bastions still had access to the top via a small twisty staircase in the wall. If you aren't careful it's easy to stumble and that's one staircase you don't want to tumble down—all stone and brick work.
Nearby the stairwell ws a window opening, a web spanning the space with a large spider sitting in the middle. I think they're known as banana spiders, a large arachnid some five inches across. Not something you want to meet in a dark alley, much less in bright daylight.
Walking around the fort we encountered, get this, no paranormal manefestations of any form.
Tabby House was under contruction by a local planter when he died a violent and unexpected death. His ghost is still said to haunt the house, which is just a shell. Accounts of the haunting go back to 1877.
South of Jacksonville is Ft. George, the location of the next two sites. We took A1A south, over Little Talbot Island, acorss Ft. George Inlet to Ft. George Road, just up the road from the Mayport Ferry (which crosses the St. Johns River were you pick up A1A south). A short drive up Ft. George Rd is Tabby House.
The house gets its name from the construction method. Tabby is a mixture of lime, made by burning oyster shells, sand and water. It is mixed with whole shells and poured into forms, much like concrete.
Tabby House is about 15' by 30', with two rooms, a larger room which would probably be the main living area and a smaller area that looks to be a cooking area. Throughout the walls are small holes which is a rement of the construction method—a form in which the tabby is poured and when dried, the form is extended up another foot or so and the next layer is poured. The holes are part of the frame for the forms.
We spend about half an hour investigating the site but again, no paranormal manefestations appeared.
But I guess you could guess that by now.
Strange feelings, poltergeist and actual sightings have been reported on the plantation. One of the apparitions appears to be the wife of the owner of the plantation, Anna Jai Kingsley, an African princess.
If I thought that the road to Ft. Clinch was looming with dark trees, then that was nothing compared to the road from Tabby House to the Kingsley Plantation. The Ft. Clinch road was paved, this wasn't; I swear the car nearly shook itself apart on the road. It was also longer than the Ft. Clinch access road. On the rare breaks in the dense forest you could see wetlands and swamp. It then finally breaks and you end up at the slave quarters.
The two dozen ruins are arranged in a semcircle. One building has been restored, but the rest are in various states of ruin, from full height to about a foot high. Each building is not much larger than 15' x 15' and most are constructed of two rooms each. The buildings themselves were all made of tabby.
While walking around the slave quarters I came across another banana spider in a web spanning two trees some ten feet apart. In my twenty years of living in South Florida I've only seen one, yet in North Florida I've seen two so far. I guess they're more common up here.
Up the road another hundred yards or so was the main plantation house, a large imposing wooden structure. It used to be two buildings, the main house and behind it a smaller kitchen house but now there was a covered walkway between the two, home to yet another banana spider. That made three.
But yet again, no paranormal manefestations.
After leaving the Kingsley Plantation we then drove about an hour south to St. Augustine. We checked into the hotel (a Quality Inn this time) and then had dinner at a local restaurant, Schooner's. The food was good but the man at the table next to us was very annoying, mainly complaining and presenting a poor role model to his son as Kurt mentioned afterwards.
We then retired to our room to catch up on our respective journals.
This was the first time I saw the Sci-Fi Channel. Kurt wanted to watch a particular show, Exposure. He thought the show was the one honoring George Lucas, but that was still over a week away.
But the shorts we did see where intriging, including a ten minute Die Hard in a car trunk.