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St. George Island State Park features 1,962 acres of beach, trails and campsites, as well as excellent fishing waters. The east end of the island is five miles from the developed areas of the park, only accessible by foot or four-wheel drive with aspecial permit. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular at St. George Island State Park. Beaches provide a treasure-trove of shells.
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
The white sandy beach invites visitors to kick off their shoes and take a stroll along the surf-soaked Gulf coast.

History and Culture

Pre-Columbian natives visited St. George Island to collect seafood during its estimated 5,000-year existence, as shown by the remnant middens. Incised ceramics, stone gaming pieces and a grinding stone were among the recovered items. `Cat-face' scars on the larger slash pines reflect the turpentined forests of early to mid-1900s. During World War II, troops used Camp Gordon Johnson for training exercises over the vast dunes. Acquisition of park land in 1963, and the 1965 completion of the Bryant G. Patton Bridge across Apalachicola Bay to St. George Island, led to increased recreational use. Completion of park facilities in 1980 opened the St. George Island State Park.

A portrait of Indian leader, William Augustus Bowles.

William Bowles

In 1799, the schooner, Fox, was shipwrecked off the coast of St. George Island. The Fox carried British citizen William Augustus Bowles, a self-styled leader of the Creek Cherokee nation. Having escaped after five years imprisonment under the Spanish, Bowles was returning to Spanish-controlled Florida hoping to reestablish his prominence among the Creek and drive the Spanish out of the territory. Although he later managed to capture the fort at San Marcos just up the coast, peace between Britain and Spain brought an end to his campaign and he was captured again by the Spanish in 1803.

Three servicemen standing in front of tents.

World War II

During World War II, the island was used by troops training at Camp Gordon Johnston, just up the road in Carrabelle. Numerous amphibious training exercises were carried out over the area's vast dunes. Remnants of practice bombs and artillery shells are still found at the park.

The harvesting of pine resin for turpentine leaves scars, called 'cat-faces' on the trees.

Cat Face Tree

Turpentine harvesting and cattle raising were historic practices on St. George Island. The park has the oldest stand of slash pine found on a barrier island and most of the old pine trees show evidence of harvesting for turpentine. Slashes were made on the trees, causing them to produce resin in an attempt to heal themselves. Containers called Herty cups were hung on the trees to collect the resin that was used to make turpentine.

Remnants of the park drive are barely visible in the sand after Hurricane Dennis caused extensive damage to the park in 2005.

Hurricane Damage

Barrier islands buffer the mainland from tropical storms and are often washed over, taking the brunt of such storms. St. George Island has experienced many tropical storms, and each one changes the landscape. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis destroyed most of the facilities and equipment in the park.

Visitos can view large historic dunes covered in vegetation on St. George Island and witness their migration toward the mainland.

Historic Dunes

Sand dunes are 'living' examples of how land moves. The majestic, historic sand dunes migrate toward the mainland, covering and changing the landscape over time. Stumps from large trees can be found in the surf, giving further evidence of the shifting barrier island.