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About Nassau County, Florida



History

Nassau County was created in 1824 from Duval County. It was named for the Duchy of Nassau in Germany.

Law and government

Nassau County is governed by the five-member Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, who are elected to four-year terms by the voters. The terms are staggered so that either three or two commissioners (alternately) are up for election every two years.

The main environmental and agricultural body is the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District, which works closely with other area agencies.

Local law enforcement is conducted by the Nassau County Sheriff's Office. 

Geography

According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 725.86 square miles (1,880.0 km2), of which 651.55 square miles (1,687.5 km2) (or 89.76%) s land and 74.30 square miles (192.4 km2) (or 10.24%) is water, much of it in the Atlantic Ocean. Fernandina Beach is located on Amelia Island, the county’s one inhabited island. 

There are 12 distinct topographical zones in Nassau County. Most of these zones run in narrow bands stretching from north to south, although this is less true as one approaches the Atlantic coast.

  1. Directly against the western border with Baker County, the topography ranges from fairly flat to slightly elevated. Drainage is poor and the soil is sandy.
  2. Moving east, there are some areas (mostly in the northern and central county) of higher ground with much better drainage.
  3. East of these areas are some lower places, especially in the south, that are level and have extremely poor drainage.
  4. Eastward again, there is a stretch that ranges from a few miles in the extreme northern areas to about 6-8 miles (13 km) wide in the southern area, including Hilliard and much of County Road 108 and State Road 301. This area again has very poor drainage, low-lying land, and fairly sandy soil.
  5. East of this are scattered areas of high, sandy land with spotty or poor drainage.
  6. East of this, there is an area including Callahan with very sandy soil on top, and clay underneath. This section of the county is heavily permeated by small creeks and rivers, which bring with them low, poorly drained soils. This zone extends across the entire county from north to south at a fairly consistent width of about 3-4 miles (6.4 km), except in the north, where it widens to nearly 6 miles (9.7 km) across.
  7. East of this area is a large band of land with a consistent width of about 8 miles (13 km). The land is low and level with extremely poor drainage, and it is permeated by small creeks and rivers. In the northern section, this is where some tributaries join the St. Marys River, while in the south a number of tributaries drain together into the Nassau River, which flows into the Nassau Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
  8. East of this area is a section of land about 3 miles (4.8 km) in width that has extremely sandy soils with bad drainage all around.
  9. Further eastward is a large area, including Yulee and O'Neil, about 4 miles (6.4 km) in width, with poor drainage and sandy soil at higher elevations, pockmarked by large reas of low lands with even worse drainage.
  10. To the south is an area of low-lying, organic soils which are essentially marshes and wetlands along the northern bank of the Nassau River, continuing into the Nassau Sound.
  11. Still eastward and somewhat to the north is a large area of marshes and organic soils which characterize area wetlands. There are many small islands in this area, and it is permeated by the Bells River and Jolly River, which empty into the Cumberland Sound to the north, just below Cumberland Island.
  12. Amelia Island, the easternmost section of the county, is characterized by poor drainage in the west and better drained, higher, sandier land as one travels eastward towards the beach. The northern area of the island features salty marshlands surrounding Egan’s Creek, which runs directly beneath Atlantic Boulevard in Fernandina Beach.

Adjacent counties

  • Camden County, Georgia - north
  • Duval County, Florida - south
  • Baker County, Florida - southwest
  • Charlton County, Georgia - west