Books

The Beauty of Sapelo Island

A spit of land off the coast of Georgia, Sapelo Island is a time capsule of Southern history. Still only reachable by boat, its 16,500 acres of pristine coastline and maritime forest have seen societies rise and fall, from the native Guale people to Spanish colonizers, and from plantation owners to today’s Gullah-Geechee community of Hog Hammock. A new coffee table book shares both that far-reaching past and the island’s present-day beauty. In Sapelo: People and Place on a Georgia Sea Island, author Buddy Sullivan, a Georgia native who spent twenty years managing the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, explores the history, culture, and ecology of a place that has captivated him. “People who have worked on Sapelo or who have lived there all their lives don’t want to be anywhere else,” he says. “Sapelo is in my blood.”

 

view as slideshow

Sunlight dapples architectural remains on Sapelo Island.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Mixed pine and oak growth in Sapelo’s lowlands.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Maritime forest growth.

photo: Benjamin Galland

In 1998, the State of Georgia restored the Sapelo light, and it once again became a working aid to navigation.

photo: Benjamin Galland

A shell ring that was a pre-Columbian ceremonial site.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Aerial view of Chocolate plantation on Sapelo’s North End. The cleared areas were once the site of a slave settlement and cotton fields.

photo: Benjamin Galland

The tabby ruins at Chocolate are some of the most extensive on the Georgia coast.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Barn Creek at Long Tabby was the shipping point for Sapelo’s sugar and molasses. This section of the waterway was later renamed Post Office Creek. The view is looking south toward Doboy Sound.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Planter Thomas Spalding’s South End House dates to 1810.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Sunrise over Doboy Sound.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Timber ships in Doboy Sound, circa 1885. Sapelo Island is in the distance.

photo: Courtesy of the author's collection

The wood frame African American church built in 1899 at Raccoon Bluff is the only remaining structure in the former community. It was restored in 2000.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Behavior Cemetery, a burial ground for Sapelo’s Gullah-Geechee people.

photo: Benjamin Galland

The Coffin-Reynolds mansion today set amid live oaks and Spanish moss on the site selected for the original mansion built by Thomas Spalding.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Brochure promoting Sea Island and the Cloister Hotel, produced by the Sea Island Company, late 1920s.

photo: Courtesy of the author’s collection

A restored country store in Hog Hammock.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Marsh and trees at Moses Hammock.

photo: Benjamin Galland

Sponsored Stories