Category Archives: Jekyll Island GA

Cleanup of Golden Ray Wreckage Continues in St. Simons Sound

Shortly after departing the Port of Brunswick in the early hours of 8 September 2019, the 656′ cargo ship Golden Ray capsized in the waters of St. Simons Sound, between Driftwood Beach (Jekyll Island) and St. Simons Island. Loaded with around 4000 new Hyundai and Kia automobile en route to the Port of Baltimore, the ship sent out an emergency call around 2:00 AM and within two hours, 20 crew were rescued.  4 remained unaccounted for and a fire was raging on the unstable vessel. Holes were cut in the hull and they were extracted safely by the Coast Guard on Monday. Sector Charleston Capt. John Reed told reporters it was the best day of his career.

It was initially thought that the ship could be saved, but that proved to be infeasible. A recent report in the Navy Times suggests that it could remain in the sea for the next year. Coast Guard Cmdr. Matt Bear says “…the Golden Ray has been slowly sinking in the sand because of the powerful tides…and…the situation makes it impossible to get the ship upright without breaking it apart and creating an even bigger problem.”

One of the biggest immediate concerns at present is the environmental impact of the wreck. The ship’s 30,000-gallon fuel supply has been removed but contaminants from the 4000 vehicles yet to be extracted from the wreckage continue to pose a threat and oil continues to leak. Altamaha Riverkeeper has been monitoring pollution impact and has discovered oil slicks and tarballs in the marshes and tidal rivers of St. Simons and Jekyll Islands. While any environmental impact is potentially problematic for the area’s tourist and fishing economies, it isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, according to the Riverkeeper. The incident well illustrates the balance that must be struck between economic and environmental concerns.

Shark Tooth Beach, Jekyll Island

Located on Jekyll Creek, Shark Tooth Beach is perhaps the least known beach on the island, likely because it’s not a beach in the traditional sense. It gets its name from the prehistoric shark’s teeth commonly found here.

There’s no sign pointing you to Shark Tooth Beach. The name doesn’t even officially exist on maps and charts, but judging by the number of people who had found their way here at the time I visited, it isn’t as unknown as it once was. Still, it requires a hike or bike ride of about a mile. No motor vehicles are allowed.

The beach is littered with oyster shells and the remains of other marine life. Wrack dominates the high end of the tide line.

If you’re looking for isolation on Jekyll Island, and don’t mind the short hike, this may become one of your favorite spots.

The entrance to Shark Tooth Beach is located slightly south of the entrance to Summer Waves water park . Look for a simple gate on the right side of the road. You can park near the gate. Follow the trail to its end and you will reach the site. Shoes are strongly suggested as cacti and other sticky plants dominate sections of the trail, not to mention the sharp shells and other detritus on the beach.

Club House Annex, 1901, Jekyll Island

Growth of the Jekyll Island Club around the turn of the century necessitated the need for more space. Charles Alling Gifford designed these condominiums to meet that need.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Chicota Cottage Swimming Pool & Ruins, Jekyll Island

Along with one of the Corinthian lions that once guarded the property, these ruins and the abandoned swimming pool are all that remain of Edwin Gould’s beloved Chicota College.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Servants Housing, 1890, Jekyll Island

Now used as offices of the Jekyll Island Authority, these two structures provided housing for servants of the wealthy families who vacationed here during the Club Era.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Baker-Crane Carriage House, 1886, Jekyll Island

One of the few remaining structures of the Jekyll Island Club which hasn’t been restored, the carriage house used by the Baker and Crane families appears to have at least been stabilized. The upper floor was used to house the carriage drivers and handlers and the lower flower was for storage of carriages and stabling of horses. It was also occasionally used as a social hall for staff of these families.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Jekyll Island Club Stables, 1897

The stables for the Jekyll Island Club were designed by Charles Alling Gifford, a favored architect of the club membership. The facility has served as a museum for many years and was recently rebranded as Mosaic, the Jekyll Island Museum.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

Cherokee, 1904, Jekyll Island

Cherokee was built for Jekyll Island Club member Dr. George Frederick Shrady between 1903-1904. Dr. Shrady was one of President Ulysses S. Grant’s last physicians. It was later owned by Dr. Walter Belknap James. One of the most beautifully proportioned cottages in the Millionaire’s Village, it is now a property of the Jekyll Island Club Resort.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

North End of Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

If you walk the whole distance of Driftwood Beach, you’ll be at the northernmost point of Jekyll Island. A pine forest skirts the beach for some distance, though some may have been destroyed by the most recent hurricane. [These photos were made in 2014].

There’s still driftwood at this end of the beach, but it’s encountered less frequently.

Erosion is accelerated by St. Simons Sound and sand eventually replaces remnant forest.

Wrack and vegetation are dominant here, so it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as the boneyard further south, but it’s one of the most unique spots on the island and there are great views of neighboring St. Simons Island and its iconic lighthouse, as well as the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

Dune Boardwalk, Jekyll Island