Punta Rassa

I completed Lee County today(5/18/2016). Woo Hoo!!!

Punta Rassa is located in Lee County. I went there on 5/18/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

From 1835 – 1865, Punta Rassa was a site of many indian skirmishes during the Seminole Indian Wars, where Fort Dulaney was built. Fort Dulaney was used again during the Civil War when Punta Rassa became a thriving South Florida Port. At the end of the Civil War, the area was abandoned. In 1869, the International Ocean Cable Company of Newark NJ (later becoming Western Union) made Punta Rassa as the Southern most end of the telegraph line. Crew foreman, George Schultz became the telegraph operator in the abandoned Ft. Dulaney Barracks. Schultz and his wife lived in one end and the telegraph office was in the other section. When cattle came to Punta Rassa, the Schultz’s found themselves letting Florida cowboys bed down on their floor during the cattle drives. They were fed for $1.50 a meal. From this, an Inn was born. In the 1880s, the area became known as a great sport fishing area and was frequented by the wealthy. In 1906, the Inn caught fire and burned to the ground. The resort was missed so much that wealthy patrons raised funds to rebuild and in 1907, for $40,000, the Schultz Company Hotel was created.  This Inn withstood the hurricane of 1910 but burned down again in 1913. By Mike Woodfin

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Montbrook

I completed Levy County today(5/14/2016)!!!

Montbrook is located in Levy County. I went there on 5/14/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

Montbrook was once a large community with several churches, a hotel, businesses, a post office, 2 sawmills, livery stables, a barber, 3 general stores and a public school. It was the most extensive lumber town in the area. Montbrook was named in honor of Montholon Brooks (1855-1929) who is buried in the Plummer Cemetary a few miles from Montbrook. This town had a few name changes over the years as indicated by postal records. It began as the town of Ambler. It was then established August 10, 1891 as Phoenix. Name changed to Montbrook on September 30, 1955. The post office then closed down somewhere between 1892-1900 when a sawmill fire destroyed the town. At this time, Montbrook became a part of the town of Williston. By Sherrieann Drake

Astena Otie Key

Astena Otie Key is located in Levy County. I went there on 5/14/2016.

I had to travel by kayak to get here, so i apologize for the quality of the pictures. I used my phone instead of my Nikon D3200.

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According to the Ghosttown website,

In the early 1500s, Spanish explorers reached the Gulf coast of Florida and left their mark in many ways. By the early 1600s, the Native American population had died off severely due to disease brought by Europeans. By the 1800s most of the island’s Native Americans had been forced to move to reservations out West.From 1818 to the early 1820s, the island was used as a trading post, and was important during the First Seminole War. It remained as such until Florida was made a U.S. Territory in 1821. In 1835 the U.S. Army built a hospital and stockade on the island. During the Second Seminole War (1835 to 1842), the island served as a military outpost. It was here on August 14, 1842 that Col. William J. Worth declared the Second Seminole War to be over. In October 1842, Atsena Otie Key was hit by a massive hurricane that destroyed almost all of the island’s buildings. This was soon followed by boom in civilian homesteading. In 1843, Augustus Steele began work on a resort hotel for wealthy Florida and Georgia planters. The island had its name changed in 1852 to Cedar Key because people had thought the Juniper trees on the island were Cedar trees. It was later changed back to Atsena Otie Key. During the 1850s, trade grew on the island. A rail terminal for the Florida Railroad (which ran across Florida from Fernandina to Atsena Otie Key) was constructed and named Station No. 4. In time, several warehouses and wharves were also built on nearby Depot Key, and soon Atsena Otie Key had become an important harbor for shipping in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon cotton, tobacco, turpentine, and rosin were being sent out of the state in large quantities through Atsena Otie Key.In 1855 A.W. Faber bought large tracts of land in Levy County to be cut for timber. A small amount of land was bought on the island in 1856, which would later become the site for a lumber mill. Then in January 1858, the town of Atsena Otie was officially chartered by the Florida State legislature. By the time of the 1860 Census, there were 215 men, women, and children living in 30 households on the island. The American Civil War brought both hardship and conflict to Atsena Otie Key. The harbor was blockaded by the Union Navy’s Gulf Blockade Squadron out of Key West. Very soon, shipping and fishing were brought to a halt.On January 7 1862, the USS Hatteras landed U.S. Navy sailors and Marines and attacked the rail head at Station No. 4. They were at first repulsed by a company of Florida state cavalry and local civilian workers, but succeeded in destroying the tracks, engines, and buildings before they retreated to the ship. Then the Hatteras boarded and either sunk or burned seven blockade runners in the harbor at Depot Key, and landed a small force to burn the harbor facilities. This small but important event has become known as the Battle of Cedar Key.The USS Somerset captured the blockade runner Curlew off Atsena Otie Key in June 1862; and later destroyed the salt works on James Island near Depot Key in October. This was very disastrous as the Union sailors accounted for some two thousand bushels of salt destroyed, with all the works. They also captured many civilian workers, slaves and horses.The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company built a lumber mill in 1868 on Atsena Otie Key to supply wood for its pencil factory in New Jersey. The area revived as a shipping port and much lumber was milled.By the 1870s, the oyster, green turtle, and fishing industries had also grown on the island. By the 1890s, lumber production was making a profit of almost $900,000, and the Farber Mill alone produced more than a third of a million pencils. The town grew as well, and by 1895 there were more than 50 households back living on the island.On September 29, 1896 a powerful hurricane and a 10 foot tidal wave crossed the island. The Faber mill was destroyed and the island was wrecked except for a few houses. Eventually, by 1897, all inhabitants had left the town and Atsena Otie was abandoned. Soon the present town of Cedar Key was built on a nearby island. In 1923, Atsena Otie Key was purchased for $500, and in 1929, the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge established on nearby Snake, Bird, and North Keys. In 1950, the last remaining house on the island was destroyed by Hurricane Easy. In 1997, Atsena Otie Key was sold to the Suwannee River Water Management District who entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the island managed as part of the Cedar Keys NWR. The island is open for public use. By Mike Woodfin

Cedar Key

Cedar Key is located in Levy County. I went there on 5/13/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

Cedar Key was at one time, one of the largest cities in the state of Florida. Until 1862, the key was a major shipping port in the hands of the confederates, but in 1862, the Union forces captured it. After the Civil war ended, the town grew and became a major ship building, timber and fishing center, but a hurricane that struck in 1896 destroyed most of the town. Today it is a fraction of the size it once was, but seves as a resort and fishing town.

Croom

Croom is located in Hernando County. I went there on 5/13/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

In the late 1890s, Croom was a vital little agricultural town that sported a turpentine still, sawmill, sugar mill, RR switch out and a RR Bridge. The people of Brooksville would ride the train out to the town and swim in the river under the Old Iron RR Bridge. Just to the right of the bridge sight is the area where a ferry used to run. Up the hill from the ferry site is said to be the site of the ferry caretaker’s home. The home is gone but the pumphouse is reportedly still there. There are many artifacts out in the woods of the Croom management area including deserted family cemetaries. The area is known for hiking and bike trails. Exploring is a must. Be careful during hunting season. This is prime wild turkey hunting land. The RR bridege and the ferry site can be accessed from the other side of the river at a management area called Hog Island. By Mike Woodfin

 

Viana

Viana is located in Citrus County. I went there on 5/15/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

It appeared on the map around 1890 in the vicinity of “Hernando”. It had a post office and a school. It was still in existence in 1900 but soon vanished. Information provided by the Citrus County Historical Museum. By Mike Woodfin

Arlington

 

Arlington is located in Citrus County. I went there on 5/15/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

Originally called “Proveville” because the settlers had to live on the land  for a certain period of time to prove possession. In 1881, it had a population of 50, a church, school, sawmill, and store. The farmers grew pineapples, oragnes, and bananas. Information provided by the Citrus County Historical Museum. By Mike Woodfin

Vogt Springs

Vogt Springs is located in Marion County. I went there on 5/15/2016.

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According to the Ghosttown website,

Vogt Springs is the repudiated site of the first discovery of phosphate in Florida by Albertus Vogt in 1889. Although it was not necessarily considered a town, this community was the location of a flurry of activity when Vogt secretly discovered phosphate on his 10 acres he had purchased from James Benfro, in 1884. For obvious reasons Voyt attempted to keep it secret. Actually, the discovery was made by an employee of Vogt, Tom Stark, who was cleaning up the area in preparation of an annual fish fry. While digging, Mr. Stark unearthed bones buried in a white chalky substance. The activity created the boomtown of Dunnellon in short order. The spring was originally called Renfro Springs, due to its previous owner and new Hodges Ferry operator James N. Renfro. He named it Renfro Springs about 1860. In addition to the Renfro owned general store, a post office was established at Renfro in 1886 and, of course, Mr. Renfro was ordained the new postmaster. The area had two local general stores, Renfro’s and another one owned by a gentleman named Helvinston. The post office only lasted one year when the name was changed to Dunnellon and in 1887, moved to Illinois Street in Dunnellon. The community site was absorbed into Dunnellon. The phosphate industry, as lucrative as gold, created a huge insurgence into Florida but now most of the industry can be found further south. By Mike Woodfin

 

Fairmount

Fairmount is located in Citrus County.  I went here on 5/15/2016.

According to the Ghosttown website,

Settled in 1885. By 1886, the population was 75. There was a post office, church, steam sawmill, blacksmith shop, tinsmith, hotel, and general store. It was mostly orange groves and was wiped out in the big freeze of 1894-95. Information provided by the Citrus County Historical Museum. By Mike Woodfin