Georgia’s southernmost and largest barrier island claims Jekyll Island as its neighbor to the north and Amelia Island, Fla., to the south. Unlike its neighbors, however, Cumberland is only accessible by ferry from St. Marys or by private boat.
The tranquil island is roughly 18 miles long and ranges from three-quarters to 2.5 miles wide, depending on the location. Across the sound to the west lies U.S. Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, which houses Trident nuclear-powered submarines.
While submarines may roam the waters around Cumberland, wild horses roam the island.
Today, 125 to 175 horses reside there, said Jill Hamilton-Anderson, chief of interpretation, education and visitor services for Cumberland Island National Seashore, part of the National Park Service. The horses keep to smaller groups, often staying within certain areas, such as the island’s south end.
The earliest account of horses on the island dates back 275 years to a battle over Fort St. Andrews in 1742. When the Spanish entered the British colonial fort on the island’s north end, they found about 50 to 60 horses in a corral, according to the NPS. However, while evidence is scarce, the NPS believes that horses were brought over in the late 1500s when the Spanish missions were established.
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