A special place

"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, it is a special place where I spend my afternoon."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Nice Addition to the Island

Take a walk down to the third most beautiful beach in the country!
    It's sometimes called the best kept secret on the Forgotten Coast. On the east end of St. George Island, lies the Dr. Julian G. Bruce, state park.  The identity of Dr. Julian Bruce, also proved to be a well kept secret. He's not famous, in the sense, that you can Google his name. and get any information about him. But, look in the Franklin Co, Florida archives. and you'll find he was very involved, and highly respected, by the Apalachicola community, and surrounding area. Dr. Bruce was a dentist in Apalachicola for 50 years. In those 50 years, he was also active in the Apalachicola Masonic Lodge. He was a commissioner for Franklin County, seven of which he served as the chairman. He was a Second Lieutenant in the armed forces during WWI, and was a charter member of the W.R Marks post of the American Legion, two of which he was the post commander. Definitely, Dr Bruce was deserving of  the state park's recognition.
   Another part of the park's history, is the story of the famous pirate, William Augustus Bowles. But, before he became a pirate, Bowles was also a soldier, an indian, a comedian, an actor, and an artist. He was born in Maryland in 1763. He enlisted in the British Army at the beginning of the American Revolution, at the age of only 13. At the age of 15, he was sent to fight off the Spanish at Pensacola. It was here that he defected from the Army, and found refuge with the Creek/Seminole Indians.  

   He married the chief's daughter, Mary Perryman, and gained prominence within the Creek tribe.  When the Spanish naval forces began attacking British forts all along the Gulf Coast, he convinced the Creek, to join forces with the British in Pensacola,  But, when Spanish ships fired on it, the fortress fell, and the survivors, including Bowles, were captured. He managed to escape, along with his Creek allies. It was then, in 1783. that he formed the imaginary "State of Muscogee" This was to be his empire among the Creeks and Seminoles. 
William Augustus Bowles
   From there, he went to New York, joined a band of comedians, sailed to the Bahamas, and did some comedy, acting, and portrait painting. But, with Bowles' hate for the Spanish, the governor of the islands felt his real talents, were going to waist. So, he gave him a small group of "pirate" ships, and along with his "navy" of misfits, which included white prisoners, runaway slaves, and a few Seminoles, Bowles sailed back to the Gulf and took aim on the Spanish shipping vessels that had taken over. His pirating skills served him well, in that, he sank a large part of the Spanish fleet. Hence, the order for his capture was put out. 
  In 1792, Bowles was captured, and taken to Madrid Spain, to be imprisoned. But, five years later, while being transported, Bowles once again,escaped, and declared his hostility towards both Spain, and the United States. He acquired a schooner from England, which was called, "The Fox." and once again, he came back to pirate the Gulf. This is where the state park comes in.  In September, of 1799, "The Fox" went aground, and eventually sank off the coast, at the east end of St. George Island, at what is now called Fox Point. The wreck has never been recovered, and there's a plaque, just inside the park, telling a condensed version, of the story of William Augustus Bowles.
   In 1803, with a sizable reward offered, Bowles was betrayed by his fellow Creeks, and was captured once again. After just a few years in a Cuban dungeon, Bowles refused to eat, and died. Thus ended his wild, and varied career. He was only 42.
   The Dr. Julian Bruce state park, is approximately 9 miles long, and consumes about 2000 acres, on the east end of St. George Island. The land for the park was acquisitioned in 1963, and with the completion of the Bryant G. Patton Bridge, across the Apalachicola Bay, in 1965, tourism to the island increased, and the park's facilities were completed in 1980.  
In the early 1900's, slash pines were tapped for the resin, for making turpentine.

The "hurty" cup
    The park is home to the oldest stand of slash pines, found on any barrier island. In the late 1800's, early 1900's, the resin used to make turpentine was harvested from these trees by "slashing" them and making what looks like a cat face on the tree. Clay vessels called, "hurty" cups were used, and pieces of these pots can be found around the park, and washed up along the shore of the bay.
The sand dunes can sometimes resemble a Currier and Ives snow scene

The dunes, in the park, are a protected area.
     Being a barrier island, St. George serves as a protector for the mainland, and takes the blunt of severe storms, and hurricanes. Because of this, the historic dunes are ever changing. In July of 2005, hurricane Dennis came through, and destroyed most of the facilities, and equipment in the park, but it has since been restored. (Hurricane Wilma hit the island, in October, that same year.)

The beauty of the beaches speak for themselves.
    Forbes, and "Mr. Beach" have voted the pristine beaches of the park, into the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the country. The past two years, the park's beaches have been ranked, third. And in 2012, Sports Illustrated, photographed their swimsuit addition here.

Coming to the end of the island.
     There's also a campground in the park, with miles of walking trails, where you'll find some of the "cat faced" trees, along with eagle, and osprey nests.
    But one of the most beautiful parts of the park, is at the very end of the island.  The dirt road, you have to take there, can get a little bumpy. But, it's so worth it. Words can't describe the beauty of this little  piece of paradise.

Most of the time, at the farthest point, the water is crystal clear, making it easy to view the different types of sea life.

                                               A well kept secret, of the island, indeed! 


  1. Very interesting history Thanks for sharing

  2. "Glad you enjoyed it Reg. It's the "beach research" that's the most fun! It's hands on, and I always think of you when I'm there! You've got to admit, talking about an island, without the beach, isn't nearly as interesting! Hope you liked the pictures!

  3. Hey Jo Ellen, really enjoyed reading about the history of the island and pirates!
    Do want to go out to Fox Pt.