"The Isle of Eight Flags"
Officially, the only location in America to have been under eight different flags, this scenic northern Florida island is known as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. Fernandina Beach, the county seat of Nassau county, hosts the annual "Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival" in the first weekend of May.
The Island is the home of Fort Clinch, a 1806-acre Civil War outpost that was never involved in battle. The local Amelia Island Plantation also hosts the annual Bausch & Lomb Tennis Championships.
A few interesting facts:
- The Island was named by General James Edward Oglethorpe in honor of Princess Amelia, the daughter of King George II of England.
- The annual average mean temperature for the Island is 69.9 degrees.
- Legend has it that The Amelia Island Williams House was visited by Confederate President Jefferson Davis yet also served as a safe house for runaway slaves. A secret room was built to hide the runaways.
- Amelia Island was chosen as the mystical land for the 1988 film "Pippi Longstocking". The red-haired Pippi's home, Villa Villekulla, is now a pink bed and breakfast inn - Posada San Carlos.
- Two endangered species, the Loggerhead turtle and Northern Right Whale, visit the Island each year to lay eggs and calve.
- Pirates' treasure and Spanish galleons are still buried in Old Town. The greatest remaining booty is rumored to be "buried beneath an oak that is pierced by a hanging chain." According to the story, the tree only appears to those lacking a shovel.
- Fernandina Beach, known internationally as the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry, also initiated the evolution of inshore to offshore; from cast nets to otter trawls; and from rowboats to fleets of motored vessels.
- Nearly 80 percent of Florida's intake of sweet Atlantic white shrimp is harvested in Amelia's waters.
- Amelia Island is rumored to be riddled with ghosts from years gone by. Miss Nettie Thompson, called "a tease, not a terror," switches dresser-top arrangements from left to right and rattles beds in her former home. A foursome of headless soldiers patrols the grounds of Fort Clinch. And former Palace Saloon bartender "Uncle Charlie" is said to appear in the massive mirror displayed behind the bar.
- The Palace Saloon was the last tavern in the country to close during Prohibition. It took more than two years to deplete its supply of spirits. In contrast, it was the first hard liquor bar in Florida to sell Coca-Cola.
- From 1807 to 1878, Amelia was known as the "Spanish Hussy". Five blocks in Old Town, named Ladies' Promenade, housed 50 saloons and bordellos
Source: Amelia Online
(www.ameliaisland.com) & Amelia Now
As an aside, my great-grandfather, David Cook, was one of the shrimpers involved in the "modernization" of the industry, by developing the "doors" which guide the trawling nets.