Amelia Island (Images of America)
Tiny Amelia Island, in the northeast corner of Florida, was once among the most important ports in the western hemisphere.
Before Florida was granted statehood, the island served as an international gateway between Spanish Florida and the English colonies that would later become the United States. Where Spanish monks and pirates once roamed, the island eventually developed into a significant seaport that exported the rich resources of Florida's interior in the late 1800s. This era was known as the Golden Age of Amelia Island and the town located on its north end, Fernandina. The railroad that connected Amelia Island to the Gulf Coast was largely responsible for the Golden Age, as it brought a burgeoning economy and many of the South's most prominent and wealthy figures. Today the island is best known as a resort community but retains the influence and charm of its remarkable past.