In a glaring 19th-century example of the privileged 1 percent, the Carnegie family owned 90% of Cumberland Island, including a gigantic 59-room Scottish mansion on the south shores. After being left abandoned and eventually burned, only ruins still remain.
Built as a winter getaway, construction began on the Carnegie’s mansion in 1884 under the direction of Andrew’s brother, Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy. Sadly, Thomas passed away before the estate was finished. When it was finally finished a few years later, Lucy and her children moved into the mansion that was accompanied by a pool, golf course and other residences for the family’s 200 servants.
The estate flourished until the 1920s, but was left abandoned during the Great Depression. It sat decaying until 1959, when a fire gutted the mansion, leaving only a skeletal and crumbling group of ruins. Today, many of those ruins still stand as a ghostly reminder of the wealth the island once contained including the main mansion, the pool house, the gardens, and various other buildings.
Although most of the island is now preserved under wildlife conservation efforts, the ruins can still be seen, and visitors can get a fairly accurate picture of what the Dungeness mansion once looked like.
Know Before You Go
There is an unpaved airstrip that can handle single engine planes as well as a ferry that runs daily. Throughout the island there are several other abandoned mansions that were built by the Carnegie's in various states of distress that should not be missed.