Island of the Eight Flags – Why We Love It

Amelia Island Map
Amelia Island Map

Amelia Island is located off of the eastern coast of the United States and is nestled just south of Cumberland Island, Georgia. This island is thirteen miles long and at its widest point is four miles across. It is a Florida island and is situated in Nassau County. Amelia Island is known for its five star hotel resorts, fine dining, golf championships, historic sites and fun festivals. Festivals on the island include the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island Jazz Festival, Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Amelia Island Film Festival and the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival. It is also known for Fernandina Beach, a Victorian village that is home to a large number of attractions, restaurants and shops.

The island is nicknamed ‘Island of the Eight Flags” because it was a possession of several countries over the course of its lifetime, and as such has had eight flags flown over it since its discovery in 1562. It has been a possession of France, Spain (two times in fact), Patriots of Amelia Island, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, Great Britain, the United States and the Confederacy.

A primary attraction on the island is Fort Clinch State Park. This state park is situated on peninsula close to the northern point of the island, by the Amelia River. It covers an area of eleven hundred acres and is northeast of Fernandina Beach. The park’s main feature is Fort Clinch. The land on which the fort is located has been occupied by many different military forces since the eighteenth century. Fort Clinch was built after the Second Seminole War in 1847. This fort is shaped like a pentagon and its walls contain a total of over five million bricks. Fort Clinch was named after Gen. Duncan Clinch after his death in 1849.

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort -> Official Website

During the Civil War, this fort was taken by Confederate troops in 1861 and was used as a base of operations for blockade runners. In 1862, the Union recaptured the fort, effectively giving them control of the Florida and Georgian coasts. It was briefly used during the Spanish American War, but was abandoned not long after the end of the war. During the 1930s, the fort was restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Florida bought it and the surrounding area. After World War II, Fort Clincher would become open to the public. In 1972, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now the fort is used for many historical reenactments which can be witnessed year round. But, the fort is not the only thing to do at the park. The park also offers camp sites, beaches to sunbathe, fishing sites and nature hikes. Along the Amelia River is a fishing pier that has changing rooms, restrooms and showers.

Another prominent attraction on the island is the Amelia Island Museum of History Collection. This museum is located in Fernandina Beach and contains a collection of more than a thousand pictures, five hundred books and a three hundred Ephemera collection (letters, maps, booklets, invoices, etc.) Collections at the museum include Footprints in Time, Timucuan Village, Civil War and the Florida Railroad, Spanish Missions of La Florida, Historic Preservation and Nassau County.

Another prominent attraction is the MIission of Nombre de Dios located in St. Augustine. The history of this mission can be traced to the establishment of the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine. During the sixteenth century, Pedro Menendez de Aviles claimed the area for Spain. On the location of the mission, he knelt and kissed a wooden cross that was given to him by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales. The priest would then start a mass and began construction on the mission. Key features of the mission include Prince of Peace Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, The Rustic Altar, Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche, Our Lady of La Leche Shrine, The Great Cross, Father Lopez Statue and The Shrine Shop.