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Posts Tagged ‘Cross City’

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Down US 19/US 98 from Steinhatchee, you’ll be going through the Nature Coast. There’s not much development in this area, compared to places like Orlando and Miami. Partly it’s because there are several large National Wildlife Refuges and some state forests here. Also there aren’t any beaches. Well, at least not the white sandy beaches that you imagine when you think of Florida. On the west coast, those are found up in the Florida Panhandle and from around Tampa southward. So I doubt there’ll be an explosion of growth here anytime soon. Which is fine by me.

First stop is the subject of one of my early "Where in Florida…" posts, the Putnam Lodge. It’s in Shamrock, which is now only a name on a map. Essentially, it’s in Cross City. (see Google map)

I don’t know of anything historical in Cross City. It is the Dixie County seat, so yeah, there’s a courthouse here. Not impressive, though, ’cause it looks like an aircraft hangar. When returning from the Panhandle, I do look forward to getting to Cross City, though. Because after driving through the forty odd miles of wilderness to Perry, and another forty miles after Perry, I’ve gotten my fix of rurality. Not so bad during the day, but at night, you wouldn’t believe how lonely it is driving along US 98 with no street lights. After this, there’s at least a town every five to ten miles. This is a good section of road to drive if you want to get away from it all without getting awaaaaaaay from it all. When I get to Cross City, I’ll usually grab some food (Hardee’s most of the time), stretch my legs, get some gas if needed, and I’ll feel like I’ll be able to make it back to Ocala.

  • Dixie County Courthouse (214 Northeast CR 351)

East of Cross City is another name on a map, Eugene. According to AGFHA, the school bell for the old Eugene School is here. Supposedly it’s on the grounds of the New Prospect Baptist Church, but I couldn’t find it. There’s what looks like a boarded up well on the property, and the bell could be inside, but that’s just a guess. (see Google map)

  • Old Eugene School Bell (New Prospect Baptist Church now there) (AGFHA)

How old is Old Town, the next city on the way? The first school there was built around 1909, so there‚Äôs a clue. There’s some old stuff in it, according to AGFHA. It also has the only NRHP in Dixie County, which is also the only Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve that’s inland. It’s the City of Hawkinsville, which was sunk in the Suwannee River decades ago. You can see the spot in the river where it lies from the old railroad bridge, which is now part of the Nature Coast State Trail. It’s a long walk to get there, though. And you can’t see the boat itself, or at least I couldn’t. Maybe if the river level was really low. If you’re a diver, you can see it that way. (see Google map)

It’s barely 4 miles until you get to Fanning Springs, on the banks of the Suwannee River. There used to be a military post here, Fort Fanning. The site has been made into a park, on the north side of US 98 right next to the bridge. Just beyond on the right is Fanning Springs State Park. I use a closeup photo I took when I first visited as my desktop wallpaper. It’s in the photo series above. See what I mean? (see Google map)

Chiefland, the last place I’m covering this post, is about 10 miles south. Just before you get there, you’ll pass the Dakotah Winery. If it’s open, stop in for a wine tasting. They’ve got some unusual ones, like blueberry wine, but also the garden variety. It’s not in an area I’d think of as wine country, but they seem to be doing OK. The wine I tried was good, which I’m sure helps.

Off US 98 is the old Hardeetown Hotel, which is now a private residence. West of Chiefland is what I’d guess is a big draw, Manatee Springs State Park, which is also a National Natural Landmarks. When I worked for a boat manufacturing company back in the 1990s, we had a company picnic here. Any employees who wanted could get a ride on one of our boats on the Suwannee River. That was a pretty cool day. And it’s a pretty nice park. (see Google map)

That’s it this go-round. See you on the road!

Route length: 25 miles

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    The Putnam Lodge is in Shamrock, Florida. It’s included in the book A Guide to Florida’s Historic Architecture, a must for the Florida historical traveller. Not sure if the town still technically exists. It’s just west of Cross City, on US 98, in the northwestern part of the state. It’s about 50 miles west of Gainesville. See more photos here.

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    At last, I got out on a roadtrip the weekend before last. I went on Sunday (the 6th). I prefer going out on Saturdays normally, as that gives me Sunday to start sorting through photos. However, that Saturday the weather was crappy, so there you go. I left about 6 in the AM, to get a good headstart. It was 36 degrees when I left around dawn. Cold for Florida, but I like it that way. It just invigorates me.

    The first hour or so of the trip was in the car anyway, so I stayed quite toasty. I got to the first stop in my jaunt, High Springs, around 8 AM. Took some odds and ends photos around town, then headed north. I wasn’t intending on stopping at the bridge over the Santa Fe River, but I like taking river photos. As it was, I got some nice shots, including the first one above, which turned out way better than I thought.

    Then it was off north, crossing old Bellamy Road, to O’Leno State Park, the site of my first SCA event back in ’78. What little I remember, the park hasn’t changed much. I walked along the Santa Fe River to where it goes underground. I planned to walk to where it comes up again, in River Rise Preserve State Park, but that’s 3 miles. Would have taken way too much time and might’ve worn me out some. So that’ll have to be another trip. Whilst there, the sky started getting dingy. It was on and off like that the rest of the day.

    Went to Fort White to get some better pictures of a couple of places I’d visited previously, the Sikes House and Fort White Public School, both on the National Register of Historic Places.

    After that, I started “springs hopping” and hit Ichetucknee Springs State Park, the north entrance. It was weird, there being no one there. But the tubing down the river stops in the winter. Part of my plan, actually, so I could get shots of the springs unobstructed. And the stepping stones therein, as the second picture shows. I then went to the south entrance. I was most peeved, since there was no ranger at either entrance, so I couldn’t get my park passport stamped, grrr.

    Now I was on US 27, near which I’d be staying the next few hours. I stopped in Branford and got shots of the Suwannee River, which I wound up crossing in a few spots along the way. Then I went of US 27 a bit to hit Troy Springs State Park. Nice park, and there were people diving! It was still chilly, so better them than me.

    Next was Mayo, and I got 3 buildings. Those being the current Lafayette County Courthouse (the third picture), the Old Lafayette County Courthouse, and the House of the Seven Gables (the Florida version).

    Went up SR 51 and crossed the Hal W. Adams Bridge, then got to Peacock Springs State Park. More divers! Also, the narrowest, ruttiest, twistiest road in any state park I’ve ever seen. Potholes were huge. The springs were neat, though.

    Back down to US 27. Almost forgot Lafayette Blue Springs State Park. Maybe I shoulda, since they were doing a bunch of construction, and there was no ranger, so there’s another stamp to re-try getting.

    After that was the long stretch. It’s nearly an hour’s drive to the next town, Perry, with not much of anything between. Got shots of the two NRHP sites in the town (and the county, for that matter), the Old Perry Post Office and the Old Taylor County Jail. Also took photos of the Taylor County Courthouse, the last one above being an example. It’s not “historic”, per se, since it was built around the 1970s. I like it a lot though, it’s nicer looking than most modern courthouses.

    Perry was the turnaround point, where I started heading southward towards home. First I stopped at the Forest Capital Museum State Park. Nice little place, and nice ranger. By now it was 4:30-ish, and I knew I wouldn’t get home until well after sundown. Another stretch of even more nothing is what US 19/98 is like going away from Perry, and it’s nearly another hour until you reach the next town, Cross City. Stopped at a Hardee’s there. I miss Hardee’s, there aren’t any in Gainesville or Ocala. I usually try hitting a Hardee’s for breakfast on my roadtrips, as they usually tide me over for quite a while. I was starving, though, as I hadn’t eaten all day. Crazy, huh? Still, worth the wait. The Portobello Mushroom burger, yum!

    I found the county courthouse and got some shots of that. It looks like a big warehouse. One of the least courthouse-ey looking courthouses I ever did see. It was just about sunset, so that was the last thing of which I could get pictures. But I was in pretty familiar territory by that point. Chiefland, Williston, and then home around 8 PM.

    Mileage: 306
    Photos: over 340

    Yes, I can take that many pictures in a day. Why I love my digital camera, ’cause I don’t have to worry about wasting film. And I’d say about half the pictures I take turn out decent enough to save, so I’m doing good.

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