Ossabaw Island is 10 miles long and two miles wide with an area of 25,000 total acres, 11,800 of which is upland. It has nine and one-half miles of beaches.
Ossabaw is extremely rich in history and was once a favorite hunting and fishing ground of the Indians. Skeletal remains of Indians dating back 4,000 years have been found there. Early colonists hunted the island as early as 1687. The island was bought by the Torrey family in 1924. Mrs. Eleanor Torrey West and her husband founded the Ossabaw Island Project Foundation in 1961. The foundation invited artists, authors, ecologists, musicians, sculptors and scientists to work on the island and share their ideas. In 1978, Mrs. West sold the island to the State of Georgia as a Natural Wildlife Refuge and in May of that year Ossabaw became Georgia’s first Heritage Preserve under the Heritage Trust Act of 1975. As a Heritage Preserve, Ossabaw can be used only for natural, scientific and cultural purposes. Mrs. West still lives on the island in her family mansion and works with the DNR in the management of the island.
In the Wildlife Refuge section of the island, seasonal hunting is permitted. There is no bridge to the island and public visitation is very limited. Special permission for primitive camping or to stay in Mrs. West home can be obtained however, through Mrs. West or the DNR.