“Welcome to the impeccable weather island,” local tour guide Cap Fendig said as we gathered around his trolley for a tour of St. Simons Island. And Cap should know all about weather patterns- he’s a 7th generation resident of the Golden Isles.
Lighthouse Trolley’s 90 minute tours start at the village pier, where Cap may point out Jekyll Island’s shore across the inlet. When I gazed over the water, the supporting towers of the FJ Torras Causeway bridge were clearly visible to our right as was the gently sloping bridge itself- connecting the island with Brunswick on Georgia’s mainland. A former county commissioner, Cap proudly spoke of the pier and gave us a few moments to appreciate the park area that follows the waterfront before we boarded the trolley.
A trolley tour of St. Simons Island with Cap Fendig is full of history, local lore and plenty of quips to keep you smiling. After sharing that St. Simons is the same size as Manhattan, he made it clear that coastal Georgia should clearly be the favorite between the two islands: “I don’t know how many golf courses are on Manhattan, but we have five.”
I was surprised that some of St. Simons Island’s history overlaps that of my own dear St. Augustine! On July 6, 1742, 2,000 Spanish soldiers marched up the coast with the goal of taking Georgia from the British. General Ogelthorpe, with the help of local Native Americans, defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Bloody Marsh. The peace treaty gave North America to Britain. And that, my friends, is why we speak English in America instead of Spanish. Live and learn!
Christ Church is the only stop passengers disembark at on Cap’s afternoon tour. The driver will allow time for a tour of the church’s interior and a stroll through the grounds. The stained glass in the church is noteworthy as is the craftsmanship of the church in general. In church history, this site is significant because John and Charles Wesley ministered here as did George Whitfield- all giants in evangelical church history. Huge oaks that shade the property stood over crowds that gathered to hear these men preach over 100 years ago! The peaceful setting reminds those open to hearing that God reigns now as He has since the foundation of the Earth. Soli deo gloria! All glory to God!
The ride back to town is relaxing- it was warm when I was there and I was grateful for the canopy of shade venerable oaks provided.
The tour ends back in the village – in time for a bit of shopping or for you to head back to your room and freshen up for dinner. Strolling down the sidewalk, I explored a vintage store with bellbottoms and jewelry that was already old when I was born and then bought some blank puzzles and scented pencils for the kiddos from the cluttered toy store across the street. Overpriced resort clothing stores abound but there are also many boutiques with varied offerings from candles to glassware to books and memorable gifts.
Learning the history of the area enhanced my appreciation of St. Simons Island. Being from St. Augustine, and quite familiar with trolley tours, I was impressed by how personal Cap’s tour was. He offers several types of tours- something for everyone! For more information and to book your tour ahead of time, check out Cap Fendig’s Tour website.