Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Did You Know Nassau County Has Ghost Towns & Cliffs That Can Be Visited By Boat?

Crandall_2-GallionLocals and visitors that want to visit a place they’ve probably never seen or even heard about in our area will want to get in touch with Captain Flip Gallion, owner of the charter boat Oceanbird, and have him escort them to the Nassau County ghost town of Crandall to view the “sand falls” and “bluffs” among other highly unusual sights there.

Flip and his photographer wife, Susan, visited the area this past weekend with Susan snapping the above photo of their boat “docked” on the deserted saw mill town’s beach, just below the steep sand bluffs. The round trip out of Fernandina Beach’s harbor takes about three hours, allowing a relaxing hour journey each way and an hour visit.

Susan reports that the route along the St. Mary’s River is secluded and scenic, passing alongside marsh islands and shorebirds with the usual number of dolphin sightings tossed in as well.

“The Crandall bluffs have bird nests carved into them where the sand seems stable, but we couldn’t get a good enough look to positively identify the birds – they’re small and most likely ‘Cliff Swallows’ or ‘Cave Swallows,’ and I don’t think they’re common,” she says. “Birders would love the area.”

She added that the sandy cliffs or bluffs are incredibly steep and best viewed from a distance since anyone attempting to get too close or climb one would possibly cause a landslide. The sand streams out of the one Susan photographed here much like a waterfall and is somehow continuously and mysteriously replenished.Crandall_4-Gallion

Jeremy Cox who writes about Florida ghost towns, says at least 15 sawmill towns popped up in Nassau County during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and they eventually became ghost towns when the lumber they sought was depleted. Crandall was one of them. Most contained not much more than a company store and church, a post office and cemetery.

The firm L.A. Davis and Brothers began buying land in 1895 and the town of Crandall, which was named after the postmaster grew to a population of about 200. But like the gold and silver mining towns of the old west, Crandall’s townspeople moved on when their commodity, virgin yellow pine, was exhausted. The same fate befell the other 14 or so Nassau sawmill hamlets. Crandall’s large mill closed sometime before 1921 and the Davis family sold their 45,000 acres to Rayonier in 1937. Crandall Road was built on the bed of the logging railroad that led to the small towns while the buildings have long since been absorbed by the wilderness.

For one of the most unusual, breath taking and fascinating trips you’ll take and views you’ll never see from land, contact Flip or Susan at 904/753-2339 or email them at Go to their web site at for more information on excursions.


Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny! Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Johnny Miller, who boasted in his election appearances and campaign literature that he encouraged a “more coherent and efficient regulatory and permitting environment” did just the opposite this week suggesting at this past Tuesday’s commission session an option that would do otherwise. The loopy bartender/commissioner asked the commission to consider an ordinance that would require a training program to teach local bartenders and severs how to get drunks safely out of their establishments and how to spot fake IDs between midnight and 2:00 am.

The other commissioners quickly pooh-poohed the concept with even Commissioner Pat Gass, who lost a sister to a drunk driver, saying: “Do whatever it takes short of legislation.” Karibo and Timoti’s owner and Commissioner Tim Poynter nixed the thought with: “I’m tired of legislation getting pushed down people’s throats,” while Commissioner Robin Lentz chimed in saying: “I’m tired of all the layers. At some point it’s personal responsibility and common sense.” Clinch Kavanaugh, who is running for the seat occupied by Commissioner Gass, said he doesn’t want more rules and that he did not understand why they’d apply to establishments open for business between midnight and 2:00 am. “I don’t know what the magic hours are about,” he said.

To humor the commissioner or maybe to just shut him up for a few minutes, the other commissioners said that despite the fact they’ve reached their limit on regulations for local business owners, they agreed to let Mr. Miller study the issue and come back again with details, including how he envisions enforcement. I’m sure they’re thinking that the short attention-spanned commissioner will soon be distracted by what he considers to be another important local concern such as the rights of LBGT marine life or some other topic he and his whacky pals consider vital.

In addition, the commissioner, whose bizarre behavior, ill-conceived, poorly thought out proposals, and far-left antics totally confound and confuse all but a small loud bubble of Miller devotees who egg him on, raised the issue of “prostitution in cabs,” not exactly a topic that’s been on the minds of most area residents unless I’m totally out of the loop here. Or maybe it’s a matter of semantics and Johnny got even more confused than normal and is concerned about “fracking” in cabs.  Anyway, during a discussion on a proposal listing rules that city cabs should be required to follow, including carrying fire extinguishers, seat belts, etc., Commissioner Miller chimed in saying he thought the rules should prohibit prostitution. Ignoring or not realizing the fact that prostitution is already illegal everywhere, the commissioner continued saying: “In the atmosphere I’m in, I hear it happens.” The ditzy commissioner who, when not performing his stand-up routine at Tuesday evening’s City Commission meetings, also entertains audiences while bartending at the downtown Palace Saloon.

But wait! There’s more Miller Time silliness. A reader wrote to me this week about other Commissioner Miller proposals saying: “I am comforted knowing that our commissioner uses his valuable time to delve into the exhaustive details of issues like fracking and coal dust. The time he and the commission spend studying these kinds of topics will certainly pay great dividends for the citizens of our small town. No need to waste time informing themselves about city pensions, the profitability of the marina and golf course, a decaying South 8th Street, harbor dredging, the waterfront park, etc. Let them focus on the BIG issues confronting the world. They really need to get to work on Global Warming!”

Since fracking on Amelia Island is about as likely as the Chamber of Commerce holding a ribbon cutting ceremony for an ISIS recruiting office, I have some other suggestions that Mr. Miller can urge the commission to contemplate that will keep those observing in the chamber rolling in the aisles; have fellow commissioners exclaiming: “He said what?” and provide me with months of column material.

Hey, Johnny how about ordinances forbidding above ground nuclear bomb testing and strip mining in Central Park; a law prohibiting burning suspected witches at the stake; an ordinance to prohibit people from boiling the ocean; an anti-slavery edict and a prohibition on detonating nuclear warheads within 100 yards of an occupied school? Or maybe you could propose Fernandina Beach to become a sanctuary city. There is so much to do Johnny!


Things I Don’t Understand: In my early days of service in the US Army I was occasionally assigned to guard duty, patrolling the perimeter of a very small US airfield near Frankfurt, Germany. I walked my assigned post with an M1 Garand Rifle slung over my shoulder and was told to challenge anyone who came near the area. I understood the orders but questioned how I was supposed to deter any type of hostile incursion since I was not provided ammunition or a means of communicating with my unit. That same confusing and helpless feeling must be utmost in the minds of many soldiers today as under current policies, a soldier with a concealed weapon permit is better protected while eating at a civilian restaurant than he is eating at a military workplace, where he is forbidden from carrying his personal weapon or a military sidearm. These folks, who are the best trained and disciplined in the use of firearms, are being denied the right of self defense. Good grief.


More Things I Don’t Understand: Last week a New York Jets professional football player with the unfortunate name of Ikemefuna Enemkpall punched the team’s quarterback, Geno Smith, in the face breaking his jaw and was immediately released (fired) by the Jets, only to be picked up on waivers (hired) the next day by the Buffalo Bills. An NFL team is only allowed 53 players on its active roster and just 46 of those can actually dress to play in a regular season game, making this group of people the organization’s most elite. The owner, coach and quarterback are the organization’s top tier management. Let’s compare the owner to the chairman of the board of a corporation, the coach the CEO and the quarterback the Chief Operating Officer or COO. The others are all middle management. So if one of General Electric’s middle managers sneaks up and sucker punches GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and breaks his jaw, do you think that General Dynamics would rush to hire that middle manager the day after GE fired him? Me either, because he would probably be in the slammer without bond and charged with assault. So what the hell is going on in the NFL?


Speaking Of For-Profit Organizations: Many years ago when I was handling public relations for one of IBM’s divisions in Atlanta I provided an exclusive story to the science editor of the now defunct Atlanta Journal, who agreed that it was indeed a newsworthy item and that he would gladly make use of it. When the writer’s column appeared a number of days later, IBM, which at the time, was one of the largest employers in the city, was never mentioned, instead the phrase “a computer company” was substituted. While visiting the writer shortly after that I asked why he edited out the company’s name and he said it wasn’t him, but the copy desk that did it, and he didn’t agree with their decision any more than I did. I asked the copy editor on the desk why he deleted all mention of IBM, a company that employed thousands of Atlanta residents? The crusty old editor bluntly spat: “Because it was too commercial.” I grabbed that day’s sport section off his desk and said: “Really? Then I guess tomorrow you’ll be editing these pages to say ‘a baseball team’ and ‘a football team.'” Despite the fact I started my career as a sports writer for a major daily newspaper and covered professional baseball, football, etc., I’ve never understood the media bias toward profit making businesses that employee thousands of honest, hard working locals while devoting page after page of over-the-top coverage to a handful of not-too-bright over paid athletes in other profit making organizations. Maybe the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should build stadiums to stage board room brawls and hostile takeovers.


This From Georgia Public Policy Executive & Friend Benita Dodd: “Remember when the IRS said that the hard drive containing Lois Lerner’s emails had been hit with hammers, run over by an Amtrak train, and burned up in a nuclear reactor. And the backup tapes had been written over? “Then an Inspector General at the Department of Treasury said 30,000 emails had been recovered. Remember that? “There must be some sleepless nights in Clintonville.” —


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: The cozy Half Time Sports Bar & Grill on South 8th Street has shuttered, I’m assuming for a couple of reasons, but one of the main ones being a lack of parking. The island’s Salty Pelican and Beef O’Brady’s and Dick’s Wings in Yulee are about the only three places I know of that will let you watch your favorite NFL team, no matter how lousy, this coming season. What about the newly remodeled Sea Breeze and the recently redecorated Surf? Are they possibilities? Are there others? Somebody let me know where diehard Washington Redskins fans can go and be disappointed again this season. Forget the Jaguars, they’re not worth the trip to Jacksonville to watch in person. Who’ll take the gamble and open their place to a Redskins crowd? It would be a big draw and generate loads of loyalty and revenue year around. Or am I just blowing smoke here? I recently wrote that local eateries, hotels, B&Bs and bars were lamenting the fact that one of their biggest issues was finding reliable, sober, presentable employees to work as servers, bartenders, kitchen help and other areas of the island’s hospitality industry and were seeking solutions. A very reliable source told me two days ago that folks at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort recently confirmed that problem and related that its corporate human resources organization is helping solve it by recruiting some 70-75 folks from India and the Philippines by the February-March 2016 timeframe to “shore up its lack of dedicated service help on Amelia Island.” According to my source, the only problem the Omni will have is housing its newly arrived employees, saying it will do some boarding at the apartment complex behind Target. They were asked about wages, said the source, and were told they are comparable to other local hotels. The Omni folks also confirmed what I’ve heard from others in the island hospitality industry— good workers are in huge demand and the biggest issue is too much over time for those willing to work. “It’s wearing them out,” they said. The Omni joins Sliders in bringing in foreign workers as that beach front eatery and bar recently hosted a group of Serbians and housed them in a dormitory-like house nearby. The next time you hear a local hospitality worker complain they can’t find a job, it’s probably not because they want work but just to stop by occasionally and pick up a paycheck.



  • Comment (6)
  • The Issue of finding good, reliable help is a problem, two main reasons for that is, We as parents have wiped the butts of our kids, because we’ve wanted a better life for them, and it’s backfired on us. This Generation ( twenty something ) does not have a work ethic.
    The other issue is Pay, If you find a worker, that is willing to give 110% He/she is not going to stick around for $5.08/Hr plus Tips. That’s what most Restaurants pay their servers on Amelia, with no benefits. If business is slow, their told to clock out, and go home. Anybody reading this blog, think they could survive on that in 2015? If your fortunate enough, that you can eat out, and you have a great server, Tip them well.

  • Dave , A much better read this week. You are a very talented writer, it’s nice to see you utilizing it. Thank You

  • Dave,

    I did not receive my weekly notification that your blog has arrived. Please check your subscriber list, I look forward to reading your blog.


  • Do you feel that it would too wacky to ask the City to provide a few bike racks on Centre Street so we could live up to our “Bicycle Friendly” advertising?

  • Dave, another great post as usual. You may probably be aware of this but you can access the Crandall area by car by going down Crandall Road (imagine that) which runs off US17. A dirt road but towards the end there is a little riverside “park” that is owned by Rayonier but generally open to the public as long as the area is not trashed. It is the family of attorney Clyde Davis that operated the mill there.


Recent Posts


Recent Comments

"There are none so blind as those who will not see"
Paraphrasing Gandhi, be the change you wish to see in Democrats Dave. Hypocrisy is never…
To quote the famous Dan Aykroyd, Peg,Peg, Peg, you ignorant ——-. The venom and hate…
Considering the fact that Nassau county had an over 72% majority Republican vote in 2016…
Dave, It's too bad you can't also report on the other side of the coin…

subscribe to my blog