The inaugural trip of Cumberland Island's new "Lands and Legacies Tours" occurred on Thursday, August 11th. A group of ten visitors from Virginia, Georgia and Florida were the first to take the long awaited tour. The six hour trip included guided stops at the Stafford Cemetery, Plum Orchard Mansion, the Cumberland Warf and the Settlement. Although the members of the group were able to gain a new understanding about the history of human activity on Georgia's largest barrier island, they were also treated to seeing many of the park's special natural resources along the way.
“As many times as I have come to Cumberland Island, this was all new to me,” said Pat Galloway of Monroe, Georgia, who went on the first trip. “This was the first time that I put it all together to include the history and nature of the Island.”
The motorized tours were mandated by federal legislation passed in 2004. In 2009, after planning and compliance packages were completed the park sought the most efficient way to offer the service. With the help of Southeast Region and the Transportation Office of the Park Planning, Facilities, and Lands in WASO, the park is now implementing a transitional program. This included approval of a transportation fee and a new transportation system for the park.
Included in the transportation plan is also the South End shuttle. An electric powered vehicle offers visitors a much appreciated lift between the most popular attractions on the south end where most day visitors frequent. It also debuted on Thursday.
"I am so proud of the great job that our staff has done in solving the many complex logistical, financial and planning problems that this special interpretive program posed," said Fred Boyles, the park's superintendent. “It is our desire that this program will help the park reach a new audience that the park has not served and build a new sense of stewardship among those who take the tour.”