Not far from St Simon’s Island is another spot where I can indulge my interest in history and my passion for birding.
Darien in McIntosh County was originally founded by by Scottish Highlanders recruited by James Oglethorpe. They arrived in January 1736 and wasted no time building a town and fortifications. This was during the period when many Scots were moved off their traditional lands to make way for sheep farming – the highland clearances. Most of the settlers spoke no other language than Gaelic.
They had a tough time of it during the period when Britain and Spain were battling for domination in the south-east.
The city was built adjacent to the site of Fort King George which had been built in 1721, the earliest British fort on the Georgia coast. It has been rebuilt from old plans and is an interesting place to visit.
Darien also suffered badly in the Civil War. In 1863 it was burnt and looted by Union soldiers in order to deny supply to the Confederate forces.
When rebuilt after the Civil War it enjoyed great prosperity as a timber exporter … until they ran out of trees.
Just south of the town is the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area, which attracts thousands of wintering and migrating ducks and provides excellent habitat for migrating shorebirds and resident wetland birds. There are a number of observation towers. Take your telescope.