Early in the island’s estimated 5,000 years of existence, pre-Columbian native peoples visited St. George Island at least seasonally to collect oysters and seafood. Remnant middens or trash mounds, contain evidence of shellfish harvests, fishing and pottery making. Checked and incised ceramics, stone gaming pieces and a grinding stone have been recovered from sites within the park.
During the early and mid-1900s, the island’s pine forests were turpentined. Many “cat-face” scars are still visible on the island’s larger slash pines. During World War II, the island was used by troops at Camp Gordon Johnston for numerous training exercises carried out over the area’s vast dunes.
Acquisition of land for the park in 1963 and the 1965 completion of the Bryant G. Patton Bridge crossing Apalachicola Bay to St. George Island led to increased recreational use of the island’s beaches. Construction of park facilities was completed in 1980 and St. George Island State Park opened to the public.
The Gulf of Mexico and the Apalachicola Bay Aquatic Preserve provide the perfect setting for this picturesque state park. With nine miles of undeveloped beaches and dunes, the park covers 1,962 acres of the east end of this long, narrow barrier island. Natural features include sandy coves, salt marshes, tall pines and Florida rosemary.
Ecosystems in the park include slash pine forests and remnant coastal scrub. The bay supports numerous needlerush and spartina marshes, while the gulf and bay support an abundance of marine life. Small ponds and tidal creeks provide a limited freshwater habitat in an otherwise arid climate.