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US 80 and Tybee Island

After making its way through a plethora of states throughout the Deep South, US 80 finishes its eastbound journey some 18 miles east of downtown Savannah, Georgia on a barrier island called Tybee Island. The beach town of Tybee Island, where the Savannah River meets the Atlantic Ocean, offers a nice ceremonious end to a highway once had its other end in San Diego, California. In addition to the usual trimmings that a beach town affords, such as sandy beaches and various shops, you can also enhance your visit to the eastern end of US 80 by checking out the historic forts and lighthouses on or around Tybee Island.

US 80's other end is now in Mesquite, Texas, just outside of Dallas.

Heading west on US 80 in Tybee Island. From the main drag, Tybee Island looks like a pretty typical beach town.
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One of the more famous sights in Tybee Island, even more famous than US 80's eastern end, is located just a few blocks away from US 80. It is the Tybee Island Lighthouse, which opened in 1916 as the most recent incarnation of lighthouses on Tybee Island. A lighthouse at Tybee Island was first ordered by Governor James Oglethorpe of the Georgia colony in 1732, to help guide ships into the Savannah River. The Tybee Island Light is the tallest lighthouse in the great state of Georgia and it takes 178 steps to climb to the top of the lighthouse. Over time, events such as coastal erosion and even destruction by fire of the lighthouse by Confederate troops during the Civil War were catalysts for new lighthouses being built at Tybee Island. I didn't get a chance to go up the lighthouse or visit the lighthouse's museum that day, but I managed to get some nice photos of the Tybee Island Light.

Tybee Island Light and associated grounds.

A close-up of the lighthouse.
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Across the street from the Tybee Island Lighthouse is Fort Screven, one of Georgia's coastal forts (Fort Pulaski on nearby Cockspur Island is another). Fort Screven was named after American Revolution hero Brigadier General James Screven, who died in battle in 1778. The construction of a fort at Tybee Island was first authorized by the Georgia legislature in 1786, but various forts and batteries have been in place throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. A small round fort known as a Martello tower was in place in 1815 and saw action during the Civil War. It was replaced with a fort now known as Fort Screven in time for the Spanish American War. The fort was phased out after World War II. Fort Screven is now a museum and a few of the batteries are open to the public to view and to explore.

Battery Garland, one of the publicly accessible batteries of Fort Screven.

The main part of Fort Screven. It now houses a museum.

Fort Screven historical marker.

Artillery at Fort Screven.


Sources and Links:
Tybee Island GA - Savannah's Beach
Tybee Island Historical Society - Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
Lighthouse Friends - Tybee Island Lighthouse
Flickr - Tybee Island Lighthouse photos by Doug Kerr
ExploreSouthernHistory - Fort Screven Historic District
Flickr - Fort Screven photos by Doug Kerr

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