50th Anniversary Golden Nugget of the Week: Skidaway and Wassaw?

By Richard Burke
50th Anniversary History Subcommittee

Did you know that originally Skidaway Island and Wassaw Island were to be connected via a causeway? One part of the grand design of the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) for the development of the Chatham County coastal islands was a link between Skidaway and Wassaw islands. Maps had been drawn envisioning an expressway extending directly across Skidaway onto a causeway out to Wassaw. The lovely 10-mile strand of wide beach on Wassaw offered a highly desirable location for a large public park and extensive residential development.

Enter the Parsons family who owned Wassaw island. As conservationists with high regard for the environment, the Parsons recognizing that untouched, natural barrier islands along the Atlantic had become a rarity and envisioning masses of people having access to their unspoiled gem, took action in the name of preserving our coastal beauty. The result: on October 22, 1969, it was announced that Wassaw Island had been sold to the Nature Conservancy for $1 million. This sale included both Great Wassaw and Little Wassaw islands. The deed stipulated that “no roadway or bridge can ever be built to the island”. The Parsons family retained a small portion of the property (180 acres) including five houses they owned there. The Nature Conservancy immediately deeded the islands to the U.S. Department of the Interior under whose auspices it will be supervised by the Bureau of Fisheries and Wildlife. *

*Excerpted from “A Short History of Skidaway Island” by V.E. “Tex” Kelly