ST. SIMONS ISLAND — A land trust has purchased Cannon's Point, a 608-acre site on the north end of St. Simons Island that contains evidence of settlements dating back 4,500 years and remains of a pre-Civil War plantation.
The St. Simons Land Trust made the purchase after raising $25 million over the past two years, The Brunswick News reported (http://bit.ly/Swh7Gz ).
The acquisition from Wells Fargo Bank was announced Monday.
The deal quadruples the amount of protected land on the island managed by the trust, said Ben Slade, executive director of the St. Simons Land Trust.
Slade said he expects Cannon's Point to be opened to the public sometime in 2013.
The trust intends to preserve the Cannon's Point land off Lawrence Road through a conservation easement from The Nature Conservancy and manage it as a publicly accessible maritime forest and historic site.
Possible uses include trails for hiking and biking and areas for primitive camping.
"Now the task of funding to prepare to put people on Cannon's Point begins," said Susan Shipman, chair of the land trust board.
"If the land trust is able to raise an additional $500,000 in 2013, this quasi-wilderness preserve will offer passive recreation and educational programs for residents and visitors," she said.
To reduce the likelihood that a planned 2-mile hiking trail will disturb buried artifacts, the land trust has already had researchers digging 30-inch-deep holes along the route and sifting the soil for potential artifacts.
Adding to the importance of the land are several sites of historical significance, Shipman said.
Shell middens, or ancient domestic trash depositories, date to 2500 BC, and the foundation remains of a large plantation home and possible slave cabin built for owner John Couper in 1804 will be preserved.
Cannon's Point is named for early European settler Daniel Cannon.