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50th Anniversary Golden Nugget: Skidaway Island State Park
In 1941 Union Bag & Paper Corporation bought a portion of Skidaway Island for use as a source of pinewood for the Savannah paper mill. By 1953, pulpwood cultivation by barge became uneconomical and for the next 20 years nature again took over the island, returning it to its natural beauty. In 1956 Union Bag merged with the Camp Manufacturing Company to become Union Camp Corporation.
In 1964, Union Camp offered to donate 500 acres for a state park if a bridge to the island was built. At the time, no one was willing to build that bridge so nothing came of this offer. Eventually, Chatham County citizens voted to build the 'Bridge to Progress', and in 1968 Union Camp donated 267 acres for the development of Skidaway Island State Park. The park purchased an additional 213 acres from Union Camp in 1969, making a complete 480 acres.
The bridge was completed in 1971, and the park opened in 1975, with a community building, swimming pool, picnic areas, 100 campsites, and nature trails through woods and marsh. In the late 1980s, the park went through a land swap and now has a total of 588 acres. A scenic campground is nestled under live oaks and Spanish moss, and some RV sites have sewer hookups. Leashed pets are allowed. Groups can enjoy privacy in their own pioneer campgrounds. Open-air picnic shelters and an enclosed group shelter are popular spots for parties, reunions, and other celebrations.
The park’s camper cabins offer screened porches, air conditioning, a bathroom with shower, kitchen, primary bedroom, and kids’ sleeping loft. Guests bring their own linens, towels, dishes, and cooking utensils. Outside, visitors will find a picnic table, grill, and, fire ring. Pets are not allowed in camper cabins but are allowed in campsites.
The park gets about 180,000 visitors each year. The entry fee is $3 per vehicle every day except Wednesday, which is free. There is an annual pass available for $30.