Archive for the ‘US 90’ Category

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last time we left off in Sneads. Next stop, the Apalachicola River, which is the divider between Central and Eastern time. Immediately followed by Chattahoochee and Gadsden County.

As you approach, though, look for a turnoff on your left for the West Bank Overlook. The overlook will give an excellent vantage point to see Lake Seminole and the Jim Woodruff Dam, which created the lake.

After that, get back to US 90 and head east. Go as slow as you can without causing a traffic jam, ’cause you’ll be crossing one of the most impressive bridges in the state, over the Apalachicola River. When you can, drive it in the opposite direction. It’s pretty amazing that way too.

Once you’re across, take a right just after the Hardee’s. The short windy road will bring you to a park on the river. You can also see the remnants of the original bridge across the river, called the Victory Bridge. It’s fenced, so you can’t get on it. But you can get a sense of what it was like, way back when. Also around here, maybe, is another branch of the Apalachicola Maritime Museum. Maybe because I dunno if it’s been finished yet.

Back on US 90, get to Main Street and the Florida State Hospital on your left. After parking, you’ll have to walk a bit east to find the one NRHP in town, the U.S. Arsenal-Officers Quarters. Yep, before it was a mental hospital, this was a military establishment. I hope they didn’t build it on an ancient Indian burial ground, else there’ll be all sorts of bad ju-ju here. I didn’t pick up any negative vibes whilst I was strolling the grounds, but I tend to be oblivious to that sort of thing. I’m a big lump of non-psychicness, me. (see Google map)

From here, you can get to my third favorite state park in the area, Torreya. Unlike Falling Waters and Florida Caverns, though, it’s not near US 90. I covered it in my SR 20 post, so check there for more about why the park is such a treat.

For a few miles east of Chattahoochee, you’ll be very close to Georgia. When I’m so close to another state, I like to cross the state line, just ’cause. Thought I’d let you know.

Keep open the eyes, so you don’t miss the Joshua Davis House on your left. There should be a brown Florida Heritage sign that’ll help you find it. The house seems to be in use, maybe as a museum. It was closed when I was there, so I couldn’t say for sure. There used to be an old octagon house along here, but it got destroyed years ago.

Further along and you’ll arrive in Gretna. Turn left onto Church Street and go a few blocks and you’ll find the town’s NRHP, the old Gretna School. The town’s watertower is behind it, which may help in finding it. The school has been semi-preserved, which is nice to see. (see Google map)

A detour south on SR 12/SR 65 will get you to Greensboro and the Dezell House. It’s a classic example of an NRHP house, as far as usage goes. Most houses on the NRHP fall into a few categories. That being: private residence, B&B, doctor’s office, lawyer’s office, real estate office, history museum or headquarters of the local historical society. The Dezell House falls in the last category.

Have you noticed that Gadsden County is spotty with NRHPs? One here, one there, another over there. Well, that’s about to change, ’cause it’s time to check out the city that shade tobacco and Coca-Cola built. The county seat of Gadsden county, Quincy.

But first, a couple of outlyers. Go north on SR 267, then right on CR 272 (a/k/a Old Philadelphia Presbyterian Church Road). You’ll reach the Old Philadelphia Presbyterian Church, which has a historical marker on the road. There’s also a cemetery on the property, but it’s not specifically listed on the NRHP. It’s one of those wooden block churches, like Pisgah United Methodist. (see Google map)

Back to Quincy and down CR 274. When you get to Krausland Road, go south on it. It’s a dirt road that ends in the parking lot for Imperial Nurseries. It’s also the site of the Willoughby Gregory House, which doesn’t look like it’s being used. It’s in so-so shape, though. (see Google map)

Return to US 90. Eastward and you’ll be in the Quincy Historic District, which encompasses downtown Quincy and several blocks surrounding it. I remember when I first got to Quincy early on a November morning. The county courthouse is a treasure, rather like the one in Citrus County. The old Marion County courthouse was that style, but it got torn down decades ago.

I said this was the city that shade tobacco and Coca-Cola built, and so it is. I don’t know much about the former, but the Coke part I do. When the Coca-Cola company initially went public around the late 1800s, a local banker learned about it. He suggested that customers buy shares. Imagine if you’d bought into Microsoft or The Walt Disney Company when they first started. That’s what happened to those customers. Millionaires and then some. They built grand homes, as one is wont to do. Fortunately, most of the old buildings were preserved and are part of the historic district. For me, in the fall, it’s one of the nicest places to walk around. Look for the Coca-Cola sign painted on the side of one of the buildings near the courthouse. (see Google map)

There’s just a little more of Gadsden to see. East on US 90 and in about 15 miles you’ll be on the edge of Tallahassee. But perhaps the quaintest part can be found by taking SR 12.

First you’ll pass the old Nicholson Farmhouse. It was run as a restaurant for years, but unfortunately closed in 2006. It’s easy to miss, look for the historic marker on the road.

Not long after that, you’ll be in Havana. And you’ve not even been on a boat.

This is Florida, though, so it’s pronounced Hay-vana. Y’all. It’s become an antiquers hangout, like Micanopy and Mount Dora. Downtown would make a nice little historic district. But there’s only one NRHP in town. Of course. It’s the Planter’s Exchange, Inc., a former tobacco warehouse that’s now home to a large antique store. If it keeps a place like this from the wrecking ball, I’m happy. (see Google map)

Wow, that’s US 90 done, from Pensacola to Jacksonville. OK, I’ve not done Jacksonville yet. But still, 90 percent done. Yeah, me. ‘Til next post, see you on the road!

Route length: 95 miles (including Torreya), 55 miles (not including Torreya)

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last time I said that Marianna has the best historic district in the state. I’ll expand that. It’s the best historic district I’ve seen anywhere.

Big claim, I know. Let me qualify. It’s not the biggest, or has the oldest buildings. What it is, is the best for knowing what you’re seeing. You can get a walking tour map at the Chamber of Commerce, in the Joseph W. Russ Jr. House. Or get it mailed to you ahead of time, because it’s closed on weekends. After all, doesn’t everyone go on roadtrips on weekdays? Yeah, my one pet peeve. Anyway, the 20+ stops on the walking tour each have numbered signs in front. So you know exactly where you are, what you’re seeing, and how to get to the next place. I’ve seen nearly every historic district in the state, and a few outside, and no other one is like this one. Heck, even Savannah’s!

The Russ House is a standout, but the place I like the best is the St. Luke Baptist Church. It’s like something out of a horror movie; all brick and gothic and covered in ivy. I’ve thought about getting business cards for a while, and whenever I do, a photo of this church will be on them. I just love this church. (see Google map)

North of town is the second of my favorite weird state parks, Florida Caverns. Due to Florida’s karst foundation, the state is riddled with sinkholes and underground caves. Most of the caves are underwater, since Florida has such a low elevation. But in the Panhandle, there are a few above ground. One system is in Florida Caverns. Like a number of the state parks, it was built by WPA workers. The caves were expanded to allow tourists to go through. It’s like Carlsbad Caverns (which I visited when I was very young), but much smaller. Great to visit in the summer, since the caves stay cool all year round. There’s also a golf course attached to the park. (see Google map)

Up the road and over some is the town of Greenwood. There are three NRHPs in town, fairly close together. I think there are some other old houses and such in the area, but I didn’t want to take the time to look around. You, however, may. You can find out more about the town here. (see Google map)

If you’re a fan of bizarre place names like me, you’ll have to detour over to Two Egg. I think there used to be a general store that sold souvenirs, but I couldn’t find it. There’s not much to see, just a few houses and the signs at the town limits. It was worth it to me just to get photos of one of the signs. Also a pretty drive, so getting there is pleasant.

Nearby is the town of Cypress, which has an NRHP, the Robert Lee Norton House. It’s the only one in Jackson County (non-restricted) I’ve not gotten pictures of. Because I can’t find the dang place. I’ve driven up and down the entire length of the street it’s supposedly on, but couldn’t find any sign of it. Thanks to Florida Heritage, I have a black-and-white shot of it, so there’s no way I could have missed it. Either the address is wrong, or the house has been moved or torn down. I thought I might have found it in Sneads. But after comparing photos, I realized it was only a superficial resemblance. I can’t find any information about the house, either, so I may never know what happened to it. If anyone else does, drop me a line, will ya?

Speaking of Sneads, there’s a state park only a few miles north, Three Rivers. It’s not one of the strange ones, but it is a nice one. No one there when I visited, but maybe on the weekends is different. It’s on Lake Seminole, a big lake created by damming the Apalachicola River, so I’d think it would be popular with boaters. (see Google map)

Next post we’ll be going through Gadsden County. But there’ll be a stopover just before we get there. See you on the road!

Route length: 45 miles

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well this is it, the last part of US 90 in the Panhandle. We’ll be going through Washington County, Jackson County and Gadsden County Counties. It’s a toss-up, but this is probably my favorite section of US 90.

We left off in Bonifay last time, so let’s start there. Going east, the landscape is pretty much the same as the last 30 miles or so. Trees, and a building here and there. There’s a bridge over Holmes Creek, too. In a few minutes you’ll be in Chipley, the county seat of Washington County.

There are 3 NRHPs in town, a small historic district and two buildings. But there are a plethora of listings from AGFHA. Easily enough to comprise a large historic district. I like the county courthouse, it’s one of those solid imposing ones. You can find out more about the area at the historical museum, when it’s open. It’s also a nice spot to leave your car and walk around downtown to see many of the old buildings.

Chipley is about halfway between Tallahassee and Pensacola, so it’s a good place to stay when you’re exploring this part of the state. My first excursion through the west end of the Panhandle in 2008 started here. Nice and reasonably priced hotels near I- 10, Waffle House if you want to eat inexpensive, Wal-Mart to get supplies and gas, you could do worse. (see Google map) (see Google map)

  • Calleway Building (S. 5th St. and S. Railroad Ave) (AGFHA)
  • Farrior Drug Store (S. 6th St. and S. Railroad Ave) (AGFHA)
  • Old Florida Bank Building (105 S. 5th St.) (AGFHA)
  • Porter Building (1368 North Railroad Avenue) (AGFHA)
  • J.R. McAferty House (100 Church Ave.) (AGFHA)
  • Chipley City Hall (672 Fifth Street) (NRHP)
  • Chipley Presbyterian Church (658 5th Street) (AGFHA)
  • Judge J.J. Jones Residence (644 5th St.) (AGFHA)
  • Woman’s Club of Chipley (607 Fifth Street) (NRHP)

Just south of I-10 is one of my favorite state parks. In fact, three of my favorites are near this stretch of US 90. All of them are unusual, with sights you don’t expect in Florida. Two of them are National Natural Landmarks. Falling Waters isn’t one of them, but it does have the tallest waterfall in the state. It might be the only waterfall in the state. It’s about 100 feet high. Mind you, it starts just above ground level and goes into a deep sinkhole. The source is a creek, too, and if it’s not rained in a while, there’s no waterfall. Contact the park to check out conditions. There’s more to the park than the waterfall, just so you know; walking paths and a picnic area and suchlike. (see Google map)

Further south are a few interesting spots. I like Moss Hill Church, a 100+ year old wooden church. And oh, the Possum monument in Wausau. Yee-ha. (see Google map)

If you’re coming from the north, you might pass the Welcome Center in Campbellton on US 231. I’m not sure why it’s there. Maybe because it’s a main road to get to Panama City? If you’re toodling along US 90, it’s rather out of the way. I’d like to see it, just out of curiosity. It’s the only welcome center left in Florida that’s not on an interstate. Well, there’s the one in the capitol building in Tallahassee. But I hardly count that, since it’s not close to the state line. (see Google map)

  • Welcome Center (5865 U.S. 231)

Cottondale is next on US 90, but I’ve only ever passed through. Nothing of outstanding historical significance there, that I know of.

Which can’t be said of the county seat of Jackson County, Marianna. It’s chockful of history. Also has the best historic district in the state. And we’ll explore that in the next post. See you on the road!

Route length: 35 miles

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We now come to my least favorite part of the Panhandle, Crestview. I mean, it’s a thriving town, due to state politicians from the area ensuring there were big military bases in the area. Happy that people have jobs and a growing economy and all that. But the place has none of the charm that you find anywhere else in the Panhandle. The courthouse isn’t on US 90, though close. And it’s ugly. The only part that looks older than 20 years is the downtown historic district. Yet that doesn’t help much, since it’s only a few blocks long and fairly blah. Downtown Wildwood is more interesting, and that’s saying something.

So scope out the historic district, and maybe the old depot on the edge that’s closed now. If you’re hungry, you can kill two birds by going to the KFC on SR 85 and visiting the Lundy monument across from it. ‘Cause that’s about all the scenicness the town has to offer. If there’s anything else, I’d love to know about it. (see Google map)

From here, you can continue on US 90 east, or take a radical detour to Alabama, or near enough. It’s going to take at least an hour out of your trip, but I’d include it. Maybe not the first time you’re in this neck of the woods, but some time. You see, you’re only 30 miles from the highest natural point in Florida. All 345 feet of it. Britton Hill.

It’s less than a mile from the Alabama, and the town of Florala. The road to get to Britton Hill (CR 285) is not as well maintained as I’d expect for one leading to such a significant state landmark. Even the signage to get there isn’t that great. A small park has been built on the site, with basic facilities. It’s across from a huge open field, so you can see the landscape rolling away from you. The drive to and from here is pretty and relaxing too, what with the gentle up-and-down of the road and the almost total lack of traffic. This is what I’m talking about when I tell folks how great the Panhandle is, Crestview notwithstanding. (see Google map)

Getting to US 90 again from here, just take US 331 south. Should you be going east on US 90 from Crestview instead, you’ve got another 30 miles stretch of forest to go through. Now, though, the trees are closer and the road curves more. Not radically, just enough so you’re not subject to highway hypnosis. The next town is as opposite as you can get from Crestview. Probably why it’s my favorite town in the Panhandle. That and the name. DeFuniak Springs.

It was named after Frederick R. De Funiak, a VP for the L&N Railroad. For a while it was a social center, home to a southern branch of the Chautauqua. The town was built around Lake DeFuniak. Circle Drive goes around the lake, but only three buildings are on the inner side. They are the First Presbyterian Church, the Walton-DeFuniak Library, and the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood. All the others are on the outside, so it’s like the lake is surrounded by a long circular park. Lake DeFuniak itself is the only round spring-fed lake in the Western Hemisphere. The only other lake like it is near Zurich.

Unlike Crestview, major efforts have been made to preserve DeFuniak Springs’ past. Most of the houses around the lake are historic, the downtown has lots of historic buildings. Unfortunately, this hasn’t helped out their economy as much as it should. I wouldn’t want it to turn into Crestview, but it would be nice if they got more tourism so they’d have more income to help in their preservation efforts. Please visit, walk around the lake and downtown, go to the winery south of town, stay the night, and tell your friends. It’s also a great place to use as a base to explore the area. (see Google map)

Twelve miles to the east of DeFuniak Springs is the subject of my very first post on this blog, Ponce de Leon Springs State Park. That post, and these pictures, say it all. (see Google map)

You’ll be coming to the Choctawhatchee River soon. If you want to get a different perspective, and a better look at the river, take the turnoff on your right (Boat Ramp Road) just after crossing the bridge. It ends in an open area at the river. You can see the underside of the bridge, and see the old railroad bridge next to it up close and personal. There aren’t any tables, but if it’s sunny and you have a blanket and some food, it wouldn’t be a bad place for a picnic.

Time for one more detour almost to Alabama, up CR 179. This one is only 13 miles, though, and the road is fairly level the whole way. It’s another one I’m proud of, since it was hard to find. It happens to be the only NRHP in Holmes County, the Keith Cabin. I tried finding it the first time I was in the area in 2008, but failed. I thought I’d passed it, but after I got home and did more research, I realized I hadn’t gone far enough. I didn’t get back to the area for over 2 and a half years, but when I did, I found it. Made of wood and over a century, yet it looks brand new. Someone, or someones, put a lot of love into it being in that great of condition. (see Google map)

Last is Bonifay. It’s the county seat for Holmes County, but I just passed through until I found there were a few historic bits. Nothing on the NRHP, but there is stuff that’s eligible. I rather like the old houses. (see Google map)

  • Residence (105 Waukasha Street) (AGFHA)
  • Commercial Buildings (Pennsylvania Avenue and Waukasha Street) (AGFHA)
  • Holmes County Courthouse (201 North Oklahoma Street)
  • Old Holmes County Jail (North Oklahoma St and Nebraska Ave)
  • Residence (209 Kansas St. East) (AGFHA)
  • Residence (411 Tracey St. North) (AGFHA)
  • Residence (803 Waukasha Street) (AGFHA)

Nearly done with US 90. In a few weeks I’ll knock out the last bit, between Bonifay and Tallahassee. Oh, except for Jacksonville, but I’m putting that off for a while. Sorry, just not a big fan of that city. Anyway, that’s it for now. See you on the road!

Route length: 85 miles

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’re starting this last section of US 90 on the Madison/Suwannee County border, on the Suwannee River itself. You’re in Ellaville, though it’s not much more than a road sign and a highway patrol station.

You can also see the old Hillman Bridge, which is just north of the US 90 bridge. It carried the original road across the river. It’s closed to vehicle traffic, but you can walk it from one side to another. There’s an old building on the west side, which looks like it was a store or maybe a tourist trap. I’m surprised how intact it is.

A few miles on through Twin Rivers State Forest is the entrance to the Suwannee River State Park. There are overlooks of the river, but it doesn’t look like it’s set up for swimming in the park. Boating, maybe. If you take the right path, you can get another vantage point of the Hillman and US 90 bridges, as well as the railroad bridge next to them. (see Google map)

The rest of the road is rather desolate until you get to the edges of Live Oak. Which surprises me, since you’ll pass one of the few intersections of US 90 and I-10. There’s an on and off ramp, but not even a convenience store or gas station. Only the remnants of one. Most other I-10 exits have at least a fruit stand. I can’t figure out why this is such a major exception.

It may feel like you’ll never get to Live Oak. But you’ll reach the fringes in another 4 miles. Then you’ll wonder if you’ll ever get out. Not that it’s Jacksonville or anything, but it seems bigger than Monticello or Madison. Maybe there’s just more development along US 90.

Downtown Live Oak isn’t a historic district, but it easily could be. All the historic places on the list immediately below are in close proximity. Parking near the old city hall and then across from the courthouse are the best options, I think. (see Google map)

There are two more Live Oak sites, but they’re a ways east. First is the Hull-Hawkins House, on the NRHP. I thought I’d never find the dang place, but tireless research on the part of yours truly lead me to it. The other is Mandi’s Chapel, part of Camp Weed. It was included in Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.. One of the rare examples not in or near a major urban center. I don’t know how accessible to the public the camp is. Check before you go. (see Google map)

The last stop in Suwannee County is the teensy town of Wellborn. There’s a short section of the old Florida State Road No. 1 here, and some old buildings, all near the railroad tracks. Also a blueberry festival. Might check that out some year. (see Google map)

  • Brick Commercial structure (CR 137 and 8th Avenue, across from post office) (AGFHA)
  • Brick road (8th Avenue, west of CR 137)
  • Walters House (1750 8th Avenue) (AGFHA)
  • McLeran Stores (1309 6th Avenue) (AGFHA)

There you go, another portion of one of my top roads in the state done. See you on the road!

Route length: 130 miles

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We start our tour of Madison County in the extreme northwestern part. Like close to the Georgia border. It’s the Concord Baptist Church. Not as hard to find as I thought it would be. Not the most impressive old church I’ve ever seen, but nice enough and well-maintained at least. (see Google map)

  • Concord Baptist Church (Northwest 140th Street, north of CR 150) (AGFHA)

If instead you chose to just head east from Monticello on US 90, you’ll pass through Greenville. The Bishop-Andrews Hotel is on US 90 to the right. It’s a B&B now.

You can drive south and see the downtown area. Some old buildings, mostly in sad shape. One of those Florida towns that look like it’s seen the last of its best days. Sad, since this was the home of Ray Charles. There’s a statue of him in the city park near the old hotel. Probably the part of town in the best condition. (see Google map)

Leaving behind the gloom of Greenville, you’ll travel some more mellow miles until you get to the seat of Madison County, Madison.

The downtown area is a historic district, but on the state level only. There are old houses and churches similar to the ones in Monticello, but it’s far from a carbon copy. The district is smaller, with fewer Spanish moss covered oak lined streets. There are also more new buildings along US 90 in Madison. Standouts here are the county courthouse, the Four Freedoms monument across from it, the Wardlaw-Smith House and the Dial-Goza House. (see Google map)

A straight shot east on SR 6 will get you to Madison Blue Springs State Park. From my one visit, it seems to be very popular. Lots of folks swimming and picnicking, and quite a few small boat trailers in the parking lot. (see Google map)

Next post, last but not least, Suwannee. See you on the road!

Read Full Post »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This time we’ll be looking at US 90 from Tallahassee to Wellborn, which is east of Live Oak. We’ll be covering three counties. Two are named for presidents (Jefferson and Madison), the other after the state’s best known river (Suwannee). There’s rather more to see than the last section I covered, between Lake City and Jacksonville. Most of the sights are concentrated in three towns along the way, though there are a few offshoots that will take you almost to the state line. There’s enough that I’m going to break this section of US 90 into three posts; one for each county.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before, and if I have it’s been a while, so here goes. Every county that US 90 goes through in Florida, it goes through that county’s seat. And in most cases, right by the county courthouse. If you’re an old courthouse lover, this road will have you doing the happy dance.

A word about I-10. Much as I prefer backroads, I don’t mind I-10 so much. It’s a very pleasant drive through most of Florida. The only places where it gets hairy are the endpoints (Jacksonville and Pensacola) and the midpoint (Tallahassee). So if you want to start a roadtrip at some point along US 90, you can take I-10 and enjoy getting there. Rest stops every 30 or 40 miles, where you can stretch your logs if you’re doing a long haul. Watch out if you’re driving when it’s dark, since there are sometimes deer on the highway. Which shows you how much rural territory I-10 goes through.

It’ll take a bit to get away from Tallahassee, since it rather sprawls all over. There was a ton of construction along the eastern part of US 90 when I was there last year. I think they’re widening it, but until it’s finished, it’s two lanes of no fun. You’ll get past the worst of it after you pass under I-10.

The road the rest of the way reminds me of SR A1A on Amelia Island. No, there aren’t any beaches. But there’s a similar tranquil ambience. It’s a combination of the lack of traffic, the low rise and fall of the hills, and shallow curves. There are buildings here and there, with larger towns every 10 miles or so. Speed limit is 55 to 65 mph between towns, but try not to be in a hurry. Wherever you’re going, it’ll still be there.

I remember reading about a beautification project done between Tallahassee and Monticello, but no details. I decided to investigate further for this post, which is another reason I’m glad I’m doing them. I tend to just visit places on the NRHP or in AGFHA just to visit them. What history I learn about them is almost a side effect. Now that I’ve visited most of the places in Florida I’d intended, I can spend the time I would be travelling to discover more about the places I’ve been. Neat, since when I visit again, I’ll be able to appreciate them with a different and more informed point of view. And I can spend more time, since I’m no longer in such a mad dash to get to all the places.

So, I found out there were two scenic road beautification projects done back in the 1930s. One was headed by Fred Mahan, a local pecan grower, and the other by the Coastal Roads Company of Miami. Thousands of attractive trees and flowers were planted along the road for about 25 miles. In the spring and summer it’s supposed to be beautiful, but I’m only ever in the area in the winter. Now that I know all that, I’ll have to visit in the middle of the year for a change, to see the road bursting with bloomery.

When you get to SR 59, take it south. You’ll go under I-10, and in a mile or so you’ll arrive in the tiny hamlet of Lloyd. The historic district and all the sites of interest are within a half-mile of the SR 59/CR 158 intersection. West on CR 158 are the two historic houses listed below, then the woman’s club. Some other old houses along the way too. Don’t go past the woman’s club, but head back east. Past the intersection is the old railroad depot, which is now used as the local post office. The rest of the historic district is north of CR 158.

When I was there, I met an owner of one of the older houses. They told me someone wrote a book set in the area, called “Dream Street”. I’ve been unable to find anything about it online. Perhaps it was only published locally. (see Google map)

Return the way you came and continue east on US 90. Before you get to Sunray Road, you should see signs for Letchworth Mounds. Follow them to get to the state park. There are only a few mounds left, though one is pretty big. It’s right next to a small neighborhood. I think it’s probably used more by the locals, since there’s not much to attract faraway visitors. It did recently get added to the NRHP, but I’d already visited before that. I love when things work out like that. (see Google map)

When you get closer to Monticello, you can loop south to see the Turnbull-Ritter House. You can’t get too close, so you’ll need binoculars to see it, and a good zoom lens to photograph it. I don’t think it’s going to be around too many more years, with the condition it’s in.

North on US 19, and look for the winery road signs. They’ll lead you to Monticello Vineyards & Winery, one of the ones I have visited. You’ll need to honk your horn after parking to notify the owners of your arrival. It’s a very small operation, but worth the detour. There’s a short wine tasting, and they do have some good stuff. I bought a bottle, which I’m still holding on to. I usually use wine for cooking, not drinking. The bottle I got should help me make some good stuff. (see Google map)

Getting back on US 19 and heading north, you’ll see perhaps my favorite courthouse approach in the state. US 19 is straight and gradually slopes upward. So you can see the domed Jefferson County Courthouse (Florida) from over a mile away. If you can get there around sunrise, the reflection of the sun off the dome is a sight. It’s also unique in the state, because it’s in the middle of a traffic circle, which is where US 19 and US 90 meet. Welcome to Monticello. Pronounced around these parts as Monti-sell-o, not Monti-chel-o. ‘Cause you’re in Florida, y’all.

Remember Fred Mahan? Well, the office for his nursery still exists, and is in use as a local library on the west side of town.

The historic district is extensive, and you can get a walking tour map at the Chamber of Commerce. It’s 4 blocks west on US 90, in a former church on the right. Lots of well-preserved fancy old houses around and about, and some neat old churches. There was a great place to eat downtown which I would’ve recommended you try, but it closed a year or so after I was there. Another victim of the crappy economy. (see Google map)

After taking your fill of Monticello, go north on US 19. At the split, veer to the right to get on CR 149. In 4 and a half miles is the old Bethel School on the right. It’s very overgrown so it’s easy to miss, keep your eyes peeled. It’d be nice to get close, but it’s fenced around. The NRHP plaque is closer to the fence, so you can at least get a decent photo of that.

Return to Monticello and take CR 146 (Asheville Highway) east out of town. More rolling hills, and some farms. After about 15 miles you’ll reach Gum Swamp Road. Turn right. Down the dirt road is the Lyndhurst Plantation. I think the mansion home still exists, but I didn’t see it. Must be too far back. Actually, it’s rather far to go to just see some outbuildings. Maybe there are tours available. I think there’s another old plantation nearby that does. (see Google map)

That’s Jefferson County done. Next is Madison. Nothing to do with that book; different county. Until next time, see you on the road!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »