Exploring Our Parks: Fort King George

Exploring our parks

DARIEN, Ga. (WTOC) -

While trying to stay safe during this pandemic, many of us have found ourselves wanting to explore closer to home. With the amount of history and natural beauty our area has, it’s actually not that hard to find a few unique places to visit.

Brian Byers is on a journey to show us around some of our state parks and historic sites in our area. In this first installment of “Exploring Our Parks” he traveled to Darien to check out Fort King George.

Park Manager Valarie Ikhwan Talks About Fort King George State Historic Site:

"Fort King George is located just about a mile and a half outside of downtown historic Darien."

“And Georgia history, actually, a large part of it begins right here. Fort King George was the first English fort in what would eventually become the first colony and State of Georgia. Because the Fort burned down in the 1700s, that gave us the opportunity to reconstruct it as it would have stood. And what you are seeing today is actually a full reconstruction. Unfortunately, none of this is original, because it did burn down. But fortunately, it is a reconstruction, so you will not see, ‘do not touch’ signs. You will not see, ‘do not climb’ signs because we want you to experience this place, this fort, as the soldiers would have experienced it. So we are known for people being to be able to understand what it’s like to climb up a ladder into their bunk every night. We’re known for people being able to understand what it feels like to carry that barrel of gunpowder, because you can do that here.”

“The reconstruction started back in 1988, so about 31 or 32 years ago. That started with the ‘Block House,’ which is the largest building behind us here. It is four stories tall. That’s our main attraction. People love exploring the ‘Block House.’”

“We have several things that you can see and do, but it is a self-guided experience, so it’s a choose your own adventure. Whether that be the sleeping barracks, the defense posts of the ‘Block House’ or perhaps some of the workshops, like our blacksmith shop. We also have a beautiful nature trail, a wonderful view of the salt marsh, and you can also pay your respects to some of the soldiers that died here by visiting our cemetery.”

“This place is special. And many of our visitors, they tell us, ‘You know, this place is special.’ There’s something about what’s in the air. There’s something about this fort itself and the way you experience it. It really does kind of capture that essence of what these people were going through, and what it’s led us to understand about who we are today. I always say, ‘If you don’t believe me, come and check it out for yourself, and I think I’ll have you convinced pretty quickly.‘”

Safety at Fort King George State Historic Site

Fort King George State Historic Site is following CDC guidelines such as wearing masks and gloves, and frequently disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.

Park Manger Valarie Ikhwan says park staff are also operating the visitors’ center and museum with limited capacity to make sure that social distancing is possible.

“That does mean that if you come during peak visitation times or on the weekends, especially midday, that there might be a brief wait for you to be able to get inside. But the fort itself is easy to explore and easy to social distance from everybody else. We’ve got a beautiful, nice expansive property, and we have several signs and rangers throughout the day helping to make sure that social distancing is happening.”

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