Camden County at a Glance
Home to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Camden County, 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 about 40 miles from Jacksonville, Florida; 38 miles from Brunswick, Georgia; 109 miles from Savannah, Georgia; and 300 miles from Atlanta.
As one of the largest counties in the state of Georgia, Camden County covers more than 600 square miles.
The population of Camden County is more than 53,000 according to 2016 U.S. Census estimates. Due to Camden’s strong economy, steady growth is predicted for the future.
Camden County is easily accessible, 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 about 30 minutes south on
St. Marys Municipal Airport and Brunswick Golden Isles Airport also serve the local area.
Conference Spaces and Accommodations
There are about 20 hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast inns located in the Camden County and Kings Bay area.
Camden County has several different meeting spaces available for use by the public. For a full list of conference spaces and local accommodations, search the Camden County Chamber of Commerce’s business directory at www.camdenchamber.com/list.
Camden County consists of three municipalities: Woodbine, Kingsland and St. Marys. Each of these municipalities has a mayor and a council of up 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 countywide services, including service to 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, 2000 Dan Proctor Drive in St. Marys, offers 24-hour emergency service and full medical care. In addition, there is a Veterans Affairs clinic as well as physicians and dentists who participate in the TRICARE system within the county.
Camden County has several financial institutions. These institutions include The Heritage Bank, Citizens State Bank, Coastal Bank of Georgia, Ameris, Southeastern Bank, United 1st Federal Credit Union and Navy Federal Credit Union.
Top Five Employers
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay 9,000
Camden County Schools 1,200
Express Scripts 650
Lockheed Martin 500
Camden County Government 400
Camden County School district includes one high school, two middle schools and nine elementary schools. Alternative and Christian school options are also available.
Coastal Georgia College, a Georgia university system school, offers bachelor’s and associate programs. There are several other colleges and universities within commuting distance in Brunswick, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida.
The county library facilities include the Camden County Public Library, St. Marys Public Library and Woodbine’s Bryan-Lang Historical Library.
The newspaper that serves Camden County is The Tribune & Georgian. WECC (89.3 FM), WKBX (106.3 FM), and WWIO (88.9 FM) and WKXC (99.5 FM) 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 landline 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 Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay family. One of the oldest towns 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 sand 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, Kingsland 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 third city to be selected for that honor. Chosen in 1923 to be the seat of county government, Woodbine boasts a late Gothic Revival-style courthouse, built in 1928. 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 Center, which occupies the former site of Naval Air Station Glynco.
Georgia’s oldest city is 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 4-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, Florida. 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, the Old Town Fernandina historic district, 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 at the heart of the 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. The 13-mile beach at Fernandina provides unlimited swimming, surfing and sunbathing. Fort Clinch offers excellent opportunities for camping, beachcombing and general outdoor recreation.
Fernandina Beach’s docks are the sites where the first offshore trawlers sailed out in the early 20th century to begin a multimillion-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, a pirate parade, sidewalk arts and crafts and, of course, seafood.
About a one-hour drive to the south of Kings Bay, Jacksonville is one of the largest cities in land area in the United States and has a population of nearly 870,000 people. The city has a variety of activities. The international airport, 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. Johns River just before it meets one of Florida’s finest beaches at the Atlantic Ocean. The area includes more than 35 miles of sandy white beaches, more than 50 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
In addition to its historic sites, Jacksonville is home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport.
Entertainment and Pasttimes
Camden County residents enjoy participating in the numerous leisure activities provided by the county’s recreation center and a number of parks conveniently located throughout the community. Other popular pastimes include golfing, fishing, boating, camping, roller-skating and theater.
St. 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 912-882-2782.
The Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum is located on Osborne Street, not far 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 and 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.
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 Catholic Church (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 on Charlie Smith Sr. Highway (Spur 40), near 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 ramp, camping and RV sites, cottages and picnic shelters. Call the park for more information at 912-882-5256.
Cumberland Island National Seashore is the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia, offering guests more than 17 miles of secluded, white sand 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 St. 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, fishing, hiking and swimming are some of the available activities. Call 912-882-4336 for more information about Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is a scenic 45-minute drive from St. Marys. Covering more than 400,000 acres, the swamp offers a rare glimpse into prehistoric times. Walk through an authentic pioneer settlement from the 1800s. Interpretive exhibits, lectures, wildlife observation, boat tours and canoe rentals are also available.
Jacksonville’s museums include the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Science & History and the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium (originally known as the Alexander Brest Planetarium). The city has one of the oldest continuously producing community theaters 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. An annual arts festival in the streets of downtown Jacksonville features the finest in arts and crafts. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is held annually in downtown Jacksonville and features 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 occur in May.
St. Marys also observes the Fourth of July with a parade, arts and crafts displays, and street dancing. The Kingsland 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.