'We bring history to life here at Fort King George Historic Site."
This was easy to see, for the man telling me this was dressed as British Redcoat, complete with musket and tricorn hat. No, it was not 1721 but a lazy Southern summer Saturday, and we were on an adventure just a few miles from home down the Georgia coast.
Fort King George Historic Site is a rare gem. It is a near-fully re-created coastal fort that gives you a true sense of stepping back in time with just one visit. What's more, special days and events are held on a regular basis that offer you chance for a hands-on experience of life in Colonial America.
"There is no other place like this in the area," said Jason Baker, our Redcoated friend. "We used plans of the actual fort to reconstruct it. This is one of a kind."
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Baker, a ranger with the Georgia State Park Service for more than 15 years, has served at Fort King George Historic Site for six years. He often dons the garb of a British soldier typical of the days when the fort was a newly built bastion.
Fort King George, overlooking a muddy bend in the Altamaha River in the sleepy town of Darien, Ga., was one of the few defenses of Savannah and South Carolina from deadly Spanish raids. Built of hand-hewn logs and earthen palisades, the cannon and blockhouse of Fort King George were meant to deter an enemy invasion and provide a safe haven for settlers in a wild, untamed land.
When you visit Fort King George Historic Site you will first be struck by the formidable nature of this historic outpost. Cannon frown from embrasures and the Union Jack snaps to and fro in the warm sea breeze. The second thing that you realize is just how beautiful this place really is. The limitless marsh stretches to the horizon, songbirds call from the myrtles along the hiking trail and a soldier's graveyard rests quietly beneath the moss-covered arms of live oak trees. An interpretive center and museum greets you upon arrival and soon you are immersed in the 18th century. If you spend an afternoon here or an entire day exploring all that the park has to offer, Fort King George Historic Site is sure to offer something for every visitor to enjoy.
Fort King George Historic Site is just an hour and a half from Bluffton, and getting there can be half the fun. Either take Interstate 95 south to Exit 405 to Darien or a more leisurely path down U.S. 17, enjoying the back roads sights of the old Coastal Highway.
In historic Darien, follow signs to Fort King George Historic Site and turn left onto Ga.-99N. At half a mile turn right onto McIntosh Road, and you will soon be at the entrance to the park.
Fort King George Historic Site is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission to the site is $7 for adults, $6.50 for seniors (62 and older), $4 youth (6-17) $2 child (younger than 6). There are full restroom and gift shop facilities and an airy picnic ground. The fort is in the town of Darien, Ga., with restaurants and other facilities nearby. Fort King George Historic Site offers hiking, group tours and even canoes to see the fort from the water. Details: 912-437-4770, www.gastateparks.org/FortKingGeorge
FIRST SATURDAYS AND OTHER LIVING HISTORY EVENTS
One of the main attractions of Fort King George Historic Site is the opportunity for visitors to experience living history. On the first Saturday of each month, live musket and cannon firings can be experienced and re-enactors are onsite to share first-hand what life may have been like during the fort's heyday more than 200 years ago. In addition, several times a year special events are held at the fort that offer something extra, including colonial encampments with authentic food and handicrafts. The next such event is Labor Day at Fort King George, which will be held on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 2. On Nov. 8-9, an encampment event, The Debatable Land, will be held, and it will include a battle reenactment. Details: 912-437-4770
Bluffton resident Matt Richardson enjoys taking day trips with his family and exploring the Lowcountry. To see more pictures from his adventures, go to www.Flickr.com and search on the username "greenkayak73." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.