Fort Clinch

Continuing my post on my journey South, I left Summerville, S.C., and drove four hours to Amelia Island, ending up in downtown Fernandina. I now have a new favorite small town!

Known as the “Isle of Eight Flags,” Amelia Island/Fernandina has had an amazing, interesting and tumultuous past that included Timucuan Indians, pirates, shrimpers, nobles and confederates. Tourism literature calls it the place “the French visited, the Spanish developed, the English named and the Americans tamed.” It is the only U.S. location to have been under eight different flags.

View of Fort Clinch

One of my first stops (after shopping a little) was Fort Clinch State Park, named for General Duncan Lamont Clinch, a prominent figure of the Second Seminole War. Construction of Fort Clinch began in 1847. The fort was built at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River to protect the natural deep-water port of Fernandina. The fort served as a military post during the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War II.

The drive into Fort Clinch.

It’s not just the fort that impressed me. Within this 1,427-acre park are beautiful Spanish moss-draped live oaks and wonderful wildlife viewing areas. I’m pretty sure I saw a bobcat coming out of the park and crossing the road early one morning.

The community of Fernandina Beach is a charming little seaport, a legacy that today can be seen throughout its Victorian-era architecture. The island is home to Florida’s oldest continuously operating bar, the Palace Saloon, located within a sprawling 50-block area of homes and buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

My hotel was less than a block from the beach so I was able to take a morning and evening walk on the sand. I have never been to a beach where there are so many seashells as Amelia Island. It was absolutely breathtaking.

After a cocktail hour my first night to meet other authors in attendance at the Amelia Island Book Festival, I was part of the “Authors in Schools” program the next morning. I taught four history classes at West Nassau High School, and then it was off to a wonderful dinner for the Featured Authors at Amelia Island Plantation. The next day was the Author Marketplace and Author Luncheon where I met dozens of avid readers and signed lots of books.

Downtown antique shopping

The wonderful trolley driver who took us to lunch told us about some of the historic landmarks on our way to the event. The entire town is made up of beautiful Victorian homes and dotted with old churches.

The town is quaint, historic and friendly. I met so many wonderful people, I didn’t want to leave, but after the Festival I hit the road again and headed for St. Augustine.

(To be continued)


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