The majestic Southern live oaks that still adorn much of St. Simons Island real estate once played a pivotal role in American naval history. Two thousand of these great bastions of the island were harvested from Gascoigne Bluff following the passage of the Naval Act of 1794 on March 27th of that year. The timber was used to build the six original frigates of a U.S. Navy still in its formative years. The total appropriation to build those first six frigates? Just under $690,000!
One of these six was none other than the U.S.S. Constitution. The oaken sides of the vessel repelled many a British cannon ball in the War of 1812. So much so, in fact, that the ship came to be fondly and respectfully known as ‘Old Ironsides.’ Prior to that, it had captured a French vessel, the Niger. It also successfully took on the pirates of the Barbary Coast in the Barbary War. Later, it went on to circumnavigate the globe in the 1840s, serve as a training vessel in the Civil War, and then sail yet again on the occasion of her 200th birthday in 1997.
Today, the Constitution is on display at the Charlestown Navy Yards in Massachusetts. Those oak timbers once taken from beautiful St. Simons Island today remain an essential part of the oldest commissioned navy vessel in the world.
So, the next time you play a round of golf on the island and an errant shot careens off one of those massive old oaks, imagine those cannon balls from two centuries ago trying to penetrate the same oak hardwood supplied by the island’s trees.
To explore the history and charm of St. Simons Island via its current real estate offerings, please contact DeLoach Sotheby’s International Realty… the premier St Simons Island Realty Company. We’ve served the area since the early 1990s, and our dedication to this wondrous area continues.