Updated On: 10/1/2012 5:09:22 AM
Camden County at a Glance... read more...
Home to NSB Kings Bay, Camden County located deep in the heart of Southeast Georgia is named for the Earl of Camden, Charles Pratt, who was chief justice and Lord Chancellor of England in the late 1700s. The county is approximately 42 miles from Jacksonville, 38 miles from Brunswick, 109 miles from Savannah and 300 miles from Atlanta.
As the largest county in the state of Georgia, Camden County covers an area of approximately 659 square miles.
The population in Camden County according to 2007 estimates is 47,641, a major growth since the 1980 census count of 13,371. Due to Camden's strong economy, steady growth is predicted for the future.
Camden County is easily accessible, as Interstate 95, U.S. Highway 17 and Georgia Highway 40 all intersect the county.
Jacksonville International Airport is the nearest commercial airport serving Camden County. It is located approximately 30 minutes south on Interstate 95.
St. Marys Municipal Airport and Brunswick Golden Isles Airport also serve the local area.
Conference and Accommodations
There are about 20 hotels and motels as well as several bed and breakfast inns located in the Camden County-Kings Bay area.
Camden County has several different meeting spaces available for use by the public. These spaces include a banquet room with a capacity of 250, a theater with a capacity of 250, classroom space that can hold 150 and a reception hall that accommodates up to 300. Audio-visual equipment is available for use. The Camden County High School Theater seats 1,275 people.
Camden County consists of three municipalities: Woodbine, Kingsland and St. Marys. Each of these municipalities has a mayor and a council of four to six people. A county commission and a county administrator govern the county.
St. Marys and Kingsland provide law enforcement services for their residents while Camden County provides county-wide services including the city of Woodbine.
Support Services and Public Safety
Camden County is served by fire departments located in St. Marys, Kingsland and Woodbine staffed by full time firefighters, emergency medical technicians and volunteers.
Southeast Georgia Health System, Camden Campus, located on Kings Bay Road, offers 24 hour emergency service and full medical care. In addition there is a Veterans Administration clinic as well as physicians and dentists who participate in the TRICARE system located within the county.
Camden County has several financial institutions with assets totaling more than $8 billion. These institutions include The Heritage Bank, Citizens State Bank, Coastal Bank of Georgia, Satilla Community Bank, Ameris, Southeastern Bank, United First Federal Credit Union and Navy Federal Credit Union.
Top Five Employers
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay 8,900
Camden County Schools 1,200
Express Scripts 650
Camden County has 11 schools, including one high school, two middle schools and nine elementary schools. In addition, the Camden County operates a special needs school. One Christian academy serves grade pre-K through 8.
Coastal Georgia College, a Georgia university system school, offers bachelor, associate and certificate programs. There are several other colleges and universities within commuting distance in Brunswick, Ga. and Jacksonville, Fla.
The county library facilities include the Camden County Public Library, St. Marys Library and Woodbine's Bryan-Lang Historical Library.
Two newspapers serve Camden County: The Georgia Times-Union and Tribune & Georgian. WECC (89.3-FM), WKBX (106.3-FM) and WWIO (88.9 and 99.5-FM) (NPR) also provide local news and music to the community. Jacksonville provides local broadcast of all major television networks. Comcast is the cable provider for St. Marys, Kings Bay and Woodbine while Kingsland Cable provides service to Kingsland. TDS Telecom is the sole land-line telephone service while there are several major wireless carriers who serve the area.
St. Marys, the nearest community to the base, is the largest city in Camden County. A quaint, serene and friendly river town perched on Buttermilk Bluff it was first settled by the Spanish well before James Oglethorpe and the English settlers arrived. It has served as the location of an Indian village, colonial settlement and most recently, host to the NSB Kings Bay family. The oldest town in Georgia, it boasts a national historic district and functions as the embarkation point for the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Park your car and stroll along the city's Chamber of Commerce sponsored Osborne Street shaded by ancient Live Oak and palm trees. White picket fences surround many of the historic landmarks. Flowered walkways invite you to come rock for a spell on one of the many sea-breezed verandas. Gift and antique shops housed in turn-of-the-century buildings offer hours of browsing. Enjoy delicious seafood and other excellent cuisine found in the eateries of St. Marys.
Stay for a while in a historic hotel, one of the bed and breakfasts, or locally owned family hotels. From most of the accommodations, you can walk to the pedestrian ferry for a 45-minute boat ride to Cumberland Island, where wild horses, white sandy beaches and natural, unspoiled habitat are waiting to greet you.
Kingsland has its origins in the John Madison King Plantation in Longwood. The plantation was worked steadily by succeeding generations of Kings until the late 1800s. Called "King's Land" rather than its proper title, businesses and private citizens began to purchase parcels of the plantation. By 1894 Longwood Plantation evolved into the town of Kingsland.
Today, it serves as home to Camden County High School, as well as several elementary schools, a middle school and churches of all major denominations. Recreation facilities include an 18-hole golf course designed by Davis Love III and the county recreation center located behind the high school on Wildcat Drive.
A great number of visitors and retirees enjoy Kingsland so much they decide to settle down to take advantage of all the wonders of the area in a climate that is pleasant year-round. In addition, Kingsland offers unparalleled opportunities for any company that requires a quality labor base, easy access to transportation, or a built-in community of potential customers with relatively high disposable income.
Woodbine, the county seat, is the fourth city to be selected for that honor. Chosen in 1923 to be the seat of county government, Woodbine boasts a new multi-million dollar courthouse that was completed recently. It continues to house the five-member board of county commissioners, the county courts, attendant offices and the county sheriff's office. This hub of county government is situated on the banks of the Satilla River, approximately 18 miles from the base.
Brunswick is less than one hour's drive to the north of the base and is a busy industrial center and port city. It is the gateway to the Golden Isles of Georgia (Jekyll, St. Simons and Sea islands) and has spectacular views of the Glynn County marshes. Lanier's Oak overlooks the marshes just north of Brunswick. The Georgian poet Sidney Lanier was inspired to write many poems on Coastal Georgia while sitting under this tree. Brunswick is also the home to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Facility, which occupies the former site of Naval Air Station Glynco.
Georgia's oldest city is located about two hours north of Kings Bay. Much of the colonial charm of this area is preserved in the splendid architectural restorations that have been done throughout the city. Cobblestone streets wind in and out of the picturesque squares.
Many famous seafood restaurants in Savannah remind the visitor of the city's proximity to the ocean. The historic waterfront district has been restored and is now a four-mile concourse of museums, boutiques, restaurants and nightspots that echo old-world charm along the Savannah River. Savannah is also home to the second largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the country.
Fernandina Beach is about 45 minutes southeast of the base on the northern tip of Amelia Island, Fla. Called the "Isle of Eight Flags," Amelia Island has been governed by France, Spain, Great Britain, independent patriots, Florida, Mexico, the United States and the Confederacy. Fernandina, Old Fernandina, the plaza around the site of old Fort San Carlos, Fort Clinch State Park and many nearby places are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Centre Street, in Fernandina Beach, is a 30-block historic district that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A great deal of restoration has taken place making the street a reminder of late 19th century Victoriana. Ocean Park and the 13-mile beach at Fernandina provide unlimited swimming, surfing and sunbathing. Fort Clinch offers excellent opportunities for camping, beach combing and general outdoor recreation.
Fernandina Beach's docks are the sites where the first off-shore trawlers sailed out early last century to begin a multi-million dollar shrimping industry, an occasion celebrated each year on the first weekend in May with the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. The celebration includes a shrimp boat decoration competition, pirate's landing, sidewalk arts and crafts and, of course, seafood.
About a one-hour drive to the south of Kings Bay, Jacksonville is the largest city in land area in the United States and has a population of more than 1,300,000 people. The city has a variety of activities.The international airport, located just off Interstate 95 about halfway between downtown and the base, is served by most major airlines. Jacksonville is the commercial, financial, cultural, medical and urban heart of Northeast Florida and the First Coast.
Situated in the Northeast corner of Florida, Jacksonville spans both banks of the broad, north-flowing St. John's River just before it meets one of Florida's finest beaches at the Atlantic Ocean. The area includes over 35 miles of sandy white beaches, more than 55 excellent golf courses, including the Stadium Course at Sawgrass, home of the legendary 17th hole, beautiful state parks and luxurious spas and resorts.
Dubbed the "Bold New City," it is also a city with more than its share of history. In pre-Columbian times, the Timucuan Indians, who lived along its creeks and waterways, inhabited the area. The Spanish, led by Ponce de Leon, came next and were followed by the French in 1564. The French built Fort Caroline and established the first European colony in America. They soon lost the foothold in Florida to the Spanish, who destroyed the French fort and built a flourishing settlement in nearby St. Augustine.
In addition to its historic sights, Jacksonville is home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport. These bases, along with Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, form the second largest naval complex on the East Coast.
Entertainment and Lifestyles
Camden County residents enjoy participating in the numerous leisure activities provided by the county's recreation center, which includes nine parks conveniently located throughout the community. Other popular pastimes include golfing, fishing, boating, camping, roller-skating and theatre. Three local golf courses also offer additional activities and events.
Saint Marys Submarine Museum presents a fascinating walk through the history of submarines and the men who operated them. The museum is a great place to learn about the "Silent Service." A wide variety of artifacts, memorabilia and information are available for viewing and you can check out the beautiful St. Marys waterfront through a real periscope. For hours of operation and entry fees, call (912) 882-ASUB.
The Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum is located on Osborne Street, two blocks from the waterfront. The museum houses a collection of artifacts from Cumberland Island open to the public. The exhibition highlights the lives of Native Americans, African Americans, the Carnegie family as well as others who lived on the island in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The museum also includes an exhibit of the "Forgotten Invasion," now recognized as one of the last battles of the War of 1812. The exhibit includes reproductions of British and American uniforms, complete with weapons, a video about the history of Point Peter and the archaeological investigations, a children's area and a wide sampling of artifacts.
Established in 1788, Oak Grove Cemetery is literally a "who's who" of Camden County history. Located in downtown St. Marys under a canopy of Live Oaks, early settlers, victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic, Acadians and soldiers from the revolution to the present have been laid to rest here. It is the largest of many old cemeteries in Camden County.
Orange Hall, completed in 1830, is considered a perfect example of Greek revival architecture. John Wood built the home as a wedding present to his daughter Jane Wood Pratt and husband Rev. Horace Pratt. Pratt was the first minister of the Presbyterian Church located directly across the street from Orange Hall. However, both John Wood and Jane died in 1829 before the completion of the home. Pratt lived in Orange Hall until 1839 when he moved with his second wife to Alabama. The home remained in the Pratt family until it was sold in 1846. Orange Hall changed ownership several times until 1960 when it was deeded to the city of St. Marys and was eventually placed on the National Register of Historic Homes in 1973.
First Presbyterian Church was built in 1808 and is the second oldest church in Georgia. Other 19th century churches in historic St. Marys include Our Lady Star of the Sea Chapel (1847), Christ Episcopal (1880) and St. Marys Methodist Chapel (1858).
McIntosh Sugar Works built in 1825, was a successful family enterprise and was later used as a starch factory during the Civil War. Only the tabby walls remain today, but the story is another intriguing part of Camden County's rich history. The sugar works is located on Charlie Smith, Sr., Highway (Spur 40), about 100 yards north of the Stimson Gate entrance to the base.
Crooked River State Park encompasses 500 acres on the south bank of the Crooked River. The park offers a wide range of excellent facilities including a boat launch ramp; camping and RV sites; a pool and bathhouse; and cottages and picnic shelters. Call the park directly for more information, (912) 882-5256. Cumberland Island National Seashore is the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia offering guests over 17 miles of secluded white sandy beaches. Visit the Greyfield Inn, built in 1901 as a vacation cottage for the Carnegie family. Converted in the 1960s to an inn, it retains the early 20th century furnishings. A short ferry ride from Saint Marys transports you to this unspoiled national seashore. Walk along the pristine white sand beaches or inland through Live Oak and Palmetto forests. Deer, mink, turkey and wild horses roam freely throughout the area. Overnight camping, no-license fishing, hiking and swimming are some of the available activities. Call (912) 882-4335 well in advance for reservations. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a scenic 45-minute drive from Saint Marys. Covering nearly 500,000 acres, the swamp offers a rare glimpse into pre-historic times. Walk through an authentic pioneer settlement from the 1800s. Interpretive exhibits, lectures, wildlife shows, boat tours and canoe rentals are also available.
Jacksonville's museums include the Cummer Gallery, the Jacksonville Art Museum, the Museum of Science and History and the Brest Planetarium. The city has the oldest continuously producing community theater in the country, while universities and colleges have their own drama departments and programs.
The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra performs concerts to packed houses throughout the year. The arts assembly sponsors an annual Arts Festival in the streets of downtown Jacksonville and features the finest in arts and crafts and performing arts. The Jacksonville Jazz festival is held annually at Metropolitan Park and features a week of jazz performances and competitions.
Coastal Georgia and the First Coast are also home to many festivals celebrated throughout the year, such as the Mardi Gras festival, held every February in St. Marys. Woodbine celebrates the Crawfish Festival in April and in Fernandina Beach, the Blessing of the Fleet and Shrimp Festival occurs in May. Saint Marys also observe the Fourth of July with a parade, arts and crafts displays and street dancing. Kingsland's Catfish Festival is held over the Labor Day weekend and is followed by the St. Marys Rock Shrimp Festival in October. Christmas throughout the community is celebrated with tree lightings and parades.