THE WATER’S EDGE
Why did so much history happen here? Why a barrier island? Why THIS barrier island? Learn about Amelia Island’s special location, its geography, and its natural resources that made it the perfect stepping-stone for Europeans exploring the New World. Also discover the natural beauty, wildlife, and setting that still enchant every visitor who steps to the water’s edge here.
Their history goes back over 4000 years to Paleo-Indians, who coalesced into the Timucua people. Residents of Amelia Island in two significant areas, they raised crops, fished, carved canoes and developed an advanced early civilization with tremendous knowledge, building a good life at the water’s edge.
ARRIVAL OF EUROPEANS
European contact with the New World, including Amelia Island, began in the 1500s, changing everything. Powers shifted often, flags changed, and the Timucua suffered. All of the European powers looked to stake their claim in the New World, and Amelia Island was at the center of it all.
THE CIVIL WAR
The Civil War did not leave Amelia Island untouched. Fort Clinch was a critical Union base, and the town was a haven for free blacks seeking shelter and protection in the South.
MARITIME WAY OF LIFE
Throughout its history, Amelia Island relied on the sea. After the Civil War, the timber industry built fortunes and brought massive growth. Later, pogey fishing and then shrimping cemented the Island’s legacy by the water. Meet some of the people who forged a difficult life at sea.
Prosperity ushered in Amelia Island’s ‘Golden Age’ of Victorian Splendor – massive hotels, lavish homes, steamer service from New York and Charleston. Tourism was king. But by the turn of the century, it began to fall apart.
Immerse yourself into what makes Amelia Island a special place at the water’s edge today. Timber and tourism have returned as the cornerstones of the economy, but there is so much more to Amelia Island!
The Amelia Island Museum of History is housed in the old Nassau County Jail. The first jail on this site was built in 1878; the current building dates to 1938. Explore a recreated jail cell and learn about life as an inmate.
ON BOARD THE MARGERY
Children will love exploring the interactive ship, The Margery. Pirates may be aboard – learn more about their way of life! Also learn about flags, knots, cargo, clothing and sailing traditions from centuries ago.
Click here for museum map: