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Welcome to Fort George Island Cultural State Park
Native Americans feasted here, colonists built a fort, and the Smart Set of the 1920s came for vacations. A site of human occupation for over 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named for a 1736 fort built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony. Today´s visitors come for boating, fishing, off-road bicycling, and hiking. A key attraction is the restored Ribault Club. Once an exclusive resort, it is now a visitor center with a meeting space available for special functions. Behind the club, small boats, canoes, and kayaks can be launched on the tidal waters.
To reserve the Club for a special event, contact The Ribault Club at (904) 251-1050.
For an eco-friendly experience you won't soon forget, sign up for a guided tour of Fort George Island on a cross terrain Segway with Kayak Amelia. These 1.25 to 2 hour tours depart from the historic Ribault Club and visit the Kingsley Plantation while traveling along more than 2 - 4 miles of maritime forest, abundant with plant and animal life. No experience necessary, but advance reservations are required so please call (904) 251-0016 for more information.
We welcome you to visit all seven of the parks which collectively comprise Talbot Islands State Parks: Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, Amelia Island State Park, Little Talbot Island State Park, Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park, Big Talbot Island State Park and George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park.
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History and Culture
Native Americans feasted here, colonists built a fort and the Smart Set of the 1920s came for vacations. A site of human occupation for more than 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named for a 1736 fort built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony. Today´s visitors come for boating, fishing, off-road bicycling and hiking. A key attraction is the recently restored Ribault Club. Once an exclusive resort, it is now a visitor center with meeting space available for special functions. Behind the club, small boats, canoes and kayaks can be launched on the tidal waters.
Built in 1928 atop the shell middens left by natives hundreds of years ago, the Ribault Club was a product of its times. For wealthy northerners and citizens of Jacksonville, the club epitomized the care free and fun-loving attitude of the post-war 1920s. Like so many businesses and fortunes, the club suffered the financial downfall of the Great Depression and changed hands many times before the Florida Park Service purchased it in 1989. Today, through a partnership between the Florida Park Service, the National Park Service and the city of Jacksonville, the Ribault Club stands restored and houses the park's visitor center, as well as meeting and reception rooms available for rent. Now, visitors to Fort George Island can once again experience a taste of the glamour that attracted people to the club more than 80 years ago.
In 1989, as part of the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program, the state of Florida purchased 581 acres on Fort George Island. The purchase ensured the preservation of a number of natural and cultural resources for the public to enjoy.
Members of the Ribault Club in the 1920s and 30s participated in a variety of recreational activities, including lawn bowling, yachting and golf. The golf course was designed in the Scottish-style, meaning more natural landscapes and fairways. The Florida Park Service continued operating the golf course through 1991. Since then, the course has been allowed to return to its natural state.
The Thompson Tabby House dates to the mid-1800s, although the exact origins of the unfinished home are unknown. The home is named for Charles Thompson who purchased the island in 1854 and is the most likely builder of the home. The structure is built of tabby, a hardened mixture of crushed oyster shell, sand and water. Tabby was an ideal building material, using items easily found in the local area.
Fort George Road
Take the opportunity to step back in time with a drive along Fort George Road with its canopy of live oak trees. Learn even more by taking a virtual ranger tour along the Saturiwa Trail, which follows part of Fort George Road. A CD of the tour is available from the Ribault Club or ranger station for use in your car's CD player.
Getting Involved Opportunities:
Volunteers are needed to lead interpretive tours, be a campsite host and for other associated park assistance. All park volunteers must attend a one-day training session. Script for formal tours will be provided, but volunteers are invited to research and develop additional tour information as appropriate. Training sessions are held periodically throughout the year. Pre-registration is required. Please call the Talbot Ranger Station at (904) 251-2320 or to register.
Optional residence is available for non-local volunteers. One campsite on Little Talbot Island may be provided in exchange for 20 hours a week service. All campsites have electricity and water. A dump station and possible septic is available. Optional lodge-style rooms with basic furniture can be provided on-site with shared kitchen facilities and common areas in exchange for 32 hours a week service. Term of position when campsite or room is provided is 6-16 weeks. Space is limited and offer is based on availability. If you are interested in becoming a Ribault Club volunteer, contact the Volunteer Coordinator at (904) 251-2320.
For more general information on becoming a volunteer, visit Get Involved.
The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. The Ribault Club is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
No entrance fee is required to enter this park.