Golden Isles 2017 Visitor Guide Page 28 Heritage & Culture

28 2017 Official Visitor Guide HERITAGE & CULTURE (800) 933-2627 R ich in history, culture and forgotten heroes, the Golden Isles' experience is one of the richest along the Atlantic seaboard. It's cultural elements-songs, stories, dances, food and architecture-and the stunning natural beauty, combine to define this special area. Tracing the paths of the area's first tourists gives insight into the lure of the coast, as does following well-worn paths through the virgin forests or paddling down the waterways that early Native Americans travelled annually to enjoy the area's bounty of game and shellfish. Today, visible remains of shell rings, both on the mainland and the islands, attest to eons of visitation. Known as the Debatable Land, the area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico later attracted the likes of Franciscans and Dominicans. Guided by the directive of the sword and cross, they built missions hoping to subjugate their native hosts. With access by the many branches of the Altamaha River, not only Native Americans and the Spanish, but also trappers, explorers and the French passed this way before the arrival of the British. It is this amalgamation of different nations and people that makes the area's history so rich. Take time to explore it. One of the joys of travel is absorbing the heritage of others and appreciating their cultures. Quite often the memories of a special trip or place are these elements of heritage and culture. Visit the historic sites that enhance the story and let your footprints follow those who came before. Did you know? The Golden Isles has been referred to as "The Land of Five Flags" in honor of the five entities that once claimed the area: Spain, France, England, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island

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