Amelia Island

Amelia Island is Florida’s Golden Isle which the French visited, the Spanish developed, the English named and the Americans tamed. It is the only U.S. location to have been under eight different flags.

The island’s first recorded European visitor was France’s Jean Ribault on May 3, 1562. He named the island "Isle de Mai." Two years later, Rene de Laudonniere founded Fort Caroline nearby.

The Spanish, under Pedro Menendez, defeated the French and founded St. Augustine in 1565. During their long dominion, the Spanish concentrated on educating and converting the natives, and the island name of "Santa Maria" was derived from a mission here. The mission and settlement were destroyed in 1702 by the English. Oglethorpe renamed the island "Amelia" after the daughter of George II.

The island became known as "Egmont" from the Earl of Egmont’s large indigo plantation. Revolutionary forces invaded in 1777 and 1778.

After the Revolution, Britain ceded Florida back to Spain, which struggled to defend it, particularly Amelia Island.  The new French Republic illegally occupied the island in 1794-95 (first interruption). Jefferson’s 1807 Embargo Act closed U.S. ports to foreign shipping, which encouraged smuggling in area waters.

With secret U.S. blessings during "The Other War of 1812", the so-called American Patriots overthrew the Spanish here and hoisted their own flag. They replaced it with the U.S. flag the next day (2nd interruption), but Spain demanded and was granted return of their Amelia Island. A recommitted Spain then completed Fort San Carlos in 1816.

To liberate northeast Florida from Spanish rule, Sir Gregor MacGregor seized control of Fort San Carlos and raised his family flag, but soon withdrew. Spanish troops tried to regain Amelia Island but were repulsed by the rebel forces of Americans Jared Irwin and Ruggles Hubbard.

The pirate Luis Aury raised his Mexican rebel flag here briefly. But U.S. troops then seized the island (3rd interruption) and held it "in trust" during negotiations between Spain and the U.S. for possession of Florida.

Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821. Work began on Fort Clinch in 1847. In the 1850s, Fernandina moved from Old Town to become the terminus for Florida’s first cross-state railroad. Organized by Senator David Yulee, the railroad ran from Fernandina to Cedar Key.

The Confederates took over Fort Clinch in April, 1861, but federal troops regained it in March, 1862, and occupied it for the duration of the Civil War.

The Golden Years 1875-1900: Fernandina's Historic District retains the evidence of the town's greatest period of prosperity. Tourists flocked here via steamers direct from New York to stay in two elegant hotels. Shipping boomed with lumber, phosphate and naval stores. The Spanish-American War fostered gunrunning from the local port, and troops again occupied Fort Clinch. After the turn of the century, tourism surged southward.

1900-present: Early in the 20th century, the modern shrimping industry was founded here, pioneered by Mike Salvador, Salvatore Versaggi and Antonio Poli. Shrimp, oyster and crab canneries prospered until the Depression. The 30s brought two pulp mills, Container Corporation of America (now WestRock) and Rayonier. In recent times, sparked by Omni Amelia Island Plantation and the Ritz-Carlton, the island has gained national attention as a resort.

Name: Bestowed by Oglethorpe in honor of Princess Amelia, the daughter of George II.

Location: The northeasternmost corner of Florida, just across the St. Marys River from Georgia. 32 miles northeast of Jacksonville.

Elevation: Avg. 20-25 feet above mean sea level Size: 13.5 miles long. Width varies from a quarter mile to two miles. 11,600 acres. 18.2 square miles (7 square miles in the city limits of Fernandina Beach.)

Only U.S. location to have been under 8 flags: French, Spanish, British, Patriots, Green Cross of Florida, Mexican, Confederate and U.S.

Population: Fernandina Beach: 11,656 Nassau County: 70,576

Annual avg. temperature: 69.9° F

50-block area of downtown Fernandina Beach listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Main tourist attractions: beach, golf, fishing, sailing, Fort Clinch, American Beach, Centre Street Historic District, Amelia Island Museum of History

Principal industries: tourism, Omni Amelia Island Plantation, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Rayonier, Inc., WestRock., commercial and sport fishing, Port of Fernandina.

Banks - Centre St., S. 8th, S. 14th, Sadler Rd.
Chamber of Commerce - 961687 Gateway
Blvd., Suite 101-G
Churches - Amelia Plantation Interdenom-
inational Chapel, 1450 Bowman Rd., 277-4414
Amelia Baptist - 961167 Buccaneer Trail, 261-9527
First Assembly of God - 302 S. 14th, 261-6448
First Baptist - 1600 South 8th Street, 261-3617
First Missionary Baptist - 22 S. 9th, 261-4907
Five Points Baptist - 736 Bonnie View, 261-4615
North 14th St. Baptist - 519 N. 14th, 261-0422
New Zion Miss. Bapt. - 10 S. 10th, 261-0010
Catholic - 4th & Broome, 261-3472
Church of Christ - 1005 S. 14th St., 261-9760
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - 2800 S. 14th Street, 261-7370
Episcopal - 8th & Atlantic, 261-4293
Grace Community Church - 85439 Miner Road, 491-0363
Holy Trinity Anglican - 1830 Lake Park Drive, 430-0274
Lutheran - 2600 Atlantic Avenue - 261-6306
Trinity United Methodist - 8th & Ash, 277-6859
Methodist - 601 Centre Street, 261-5769
Presbyterian - 9 N. 6th Street, 261-3837
Hospital - 1250 S. 18th Street
Library - 25 N. 4th Street, Tues., Wed., Fri. & Sat. 10-6; Mon. & Thurs. 10-8; closed Sunday.
Museum - Corner of South 3rd and Cedar; guided tours 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Police Department - 1525 Lime Street
Post Office - Centre at 4th, Sadler at Citrona
Public Restrooms - Centre Street next to the Visitor Center, Library, Central Park, Main Beach, Peter’s Point
Shopping Centers - Downtown, S 8th.,S. 14th., Sadler Road, Palmetto Walk, The Shops at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, The Shops at Amelia Market, Park Place, Gateway to Amelia
Visitor Center - 102 Centre Street