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Posts Tagged ‘Lake City’

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We’re starting in the major nexus that is Lake City. Considering how many significant roads go through here, and the fact that it’s the Columbia County seat, it’s surprisingly small. Not tiny, per se, but only moderate sized. US 41, US 441 and US 90 go through the heart of Lake City, and I-75 and I-10 intersect just to the north.

This post is about a very untravelled section of a very major road; US 90 between Lake City and Jacksonville. US 90 parallels I-10 for its whole length in Florida, even crossing each other at about half a dozen points along the way. There’s not much of interest to the casual traveller, so most people just zoom to or from Jacksonville on the interstate. Yet because there’s so little between the two cities, you can travel almost as quickly on US 90. As much as I like backroads, I equally like major roads where you can speed along as though you’re on an interstate, without having to contend with the heavy traffic and speed demons. So let’s mosey along down US 90, shall we?

There’s a couple of older homesteads in AGFHA that I couldn’t find, due to very vague directions. Most of the historic stuff is right around downtown. There are two historic districts; the downtown area and the residential neighborhood nearby. A mile or so of walking and you can catch it all. A good spot to park is near the old courthouse. (see Google maps)

  • Birley-Gray Plantation (US 90, 3 miles west of I-75) (AGFHA)
  • Watkins Estate (Penwood) (Herlong Road, west of US 47) (AGFHA)

This is a very relaxed part of the state, except for one weekend in February. The downtown is closed off to celebrate the annual reenactment of the battle of Olustee. The site of the battle, and the perennial replay, is the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park. If you want to see the historic structures in Lake City, this is not the time to be there. I’ve never been to the battle, even though I have several friends who are reenactors. Military events and artifacts of any century hold little interest for me. But it is a big shindig, with thousands attending. Might even be tens of thousands. It’s certainly not dull. Should you decide to go, prepare for inclement weather. That weekend always seems to be cold, or rainy, or cold and rainy.

There’s a National Natural Landmark along the way somewhere in the Osceola National Forest, but it’s restricted access. When you get to Sanderson, go north on CR 229 if you want to see the John Bethea State Forest. (see Google maps)

You’re mostly going to see trees on both sides of the road, interspersed with small towns. The next such is Glen St. Mary. Take a right at CR 125 and pass under I-10. Take a right at the first dirt road, which should be Glen Nursery Road. Check the street sign to be sure, though. You’ll come to the old offices of the Glen Saint Mary Nurseries Company. There’s some historic homes in the area too. I met a nice man on a golf cart (security, I think), who told me some of the history of the company. If you’re lucky, so will you. (see Google maps)

Only a few miles on is the Baker County seat, Macclenny. Due to a dip in the St. Mary’s River, you’re closer to Georgia than anywhere else along here. If you feel like taking a run for the border up SR 121, I have to warn you that there’s not much to see. I’ve only ever gotten as far as St. George, and believe me, I’m not tempted to make a return trip.

In Macclenny, you should visit the heritage park. I was happily surprised when I first stopped there that the one remote NRHP in the county, the Burnsed Blockhouse, had been moved to the park from Sanderson. The old railroad depot is there too, as well as other historical buildings. Further east is the moderately old courthouse, the older courthouse (which is now used as a library) and jail next to it, and a few homes dating back to earlier in the last century. (see Google maps)

  • Burnsed Blockhouse (127 S Lowder St) (NRHP)
  • Southern Coastline Railroad Station (AGFHA)
  • Old Baker County Courthouse (14 West McIver Street) (NRHP)
  • Merritt-Herndon House (228 S. 5th St) (AGFHA)
  • Suits Us (Dorman House) (212 McIver) (AGFHA)
  • Baker County Courthouse (339 E. Macclenny Ave) (AGFHA)
  • Charles F. Barber House (S 4th St) (AGFHA)
  • Edgar Turner-Duncan House (N 6th St) (AGFHA)
  • David Griffin House (George Hodges Rd, west of CR 121, south of Macclenny) (AGFHA)
  • Williams-Shuey House (George Hodges Rd, west of CR 121, south of Macclenny) (AGFHA)

You’ll cross US 301 as you go through Baldwin. From here on are sporadic industrial businesses and not much else of interest. You’re on the outskirts of Jacksonville, and the road will get more congested as you progress. Especially once you’ve passed under I-295, part of the Jacksonville beltway. If you want to go to Jacksonville, I’d actually recommend you get on I-10 at this point. If you need to go north (towards Georgia) or south (towards St. Augustine), get on I-295. ‘Cause trust me, unless you like big cities and all that they entail, you want to get away from Jacksonville as quickly as possible.

This post is done, and on this route I hope you have fun. See you on the road!

Route length: 60 miles

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This trip will take you down US 41, from the Georgia border to Lake City. It’s another one with mixed emotions for me, as this was part of the last trip I took with Mom. We went the other direction, of course. We went up US 41 all the way to Valdosta, over to Thomasville, then down to Monticello and home. It was a cold February, but the memories of those trips with her will always keep me warm.

OK, the trip. If you come down I-75, you can stop at the Welcome Center for some orange juice and information. If you come down US 41, you may pass through Valdosta. There’s some nice historic stuff in town, but I won’t go into that now. You will almost certainly go through Lake Park, and there’s an NRHP only a couple blocks south of US 41 there. It’s the Ewell Brown General Store, and it’s home to the local history museum. Hours are limited, as it’s operated by volunteers, like many such museums. Check ahead if you want to see inside.

Keep going south. There’s an NRHP farm in the area, but I couldn’t find it. It’s likely too far off the road to see. In about 5 miles you’ll cross the state line and be in Florida. Technically you’re in Jennings now, but you won’t see much for another couple of miles.

There’s not a lot to see in Jennings. I am curious about the history, but haven’t found much of anything about it. There’s a school on the NRHP, and a few spots from AGFHA. There do look to be some older houses north of US 41, so some aimless driving may not be amiss. (see Google map)

  • Jennings Post Office (1221 Hamilton Ave (SR 141)) (AGFHA)
  • Mercantile Stores (Hamilton Ave (SR 141)) (AGFHA)
  • Jennings High School (1291 Florida Street) (NRHP)
  • McCall Bates House (SR 150) (AGFHA)
  • Apalahoochee Bridge (dirt road off SR 141 (NW 9th Dr, NE of Jennings)) (AGFHA)

You’ll be paralleling I-75 for the next few miles, then US 41 veers east. You’re not going to see much traffic, since most people will use the Interstate. Which means you’ll have the road to yourself, so enjoy the countryside.

It’s about 12 miles from Jennings to the next town, Jasper, and you’ll cross a modern bridge over the Alapaha River about half way. The road merges with US 129 and SR 100, then you’ll be in Jasper.

I like Jasper. Maybe because it’s bigger than Jennings, so there’s more to see. And they’ve got a nice historic downtown area. Only a couple of NRHPs; the Old County Jail and the United Methodist Church. Also a few sites from AGFHA. I think the Ginning Company Warehouse is the building across from the old jail. Jasper is the county seat of Hamilton County, so I’ve included the courthouse on the itinerary. It’s not historic, though. Looks like it was built maybe 30 or 40 years ago. But if you want to see all the county courthouses in the state, knock yourself out. (see Google map)

  • Hamilton County Historical Museum (Old Jail) (501 1st Ave Northeast) (NRHP)
  • Jasper Ginning Co. Warehouse (501 1st Avenue Northeast?) (AGFHA)
  • W.Y. Sandlin House (Southeast 1st St. and Central Ave.) (AGFHA)
  • Hamilton County Courthouse (207 Northeast 1st Street)
  • Commercial Bank (102 Hattey Street) (AGFHA)
  • Kirby L. Sandlin House (208 1st Ave. SW) (AGFHA)
  • W.R. Drury House (306 Central Ave) (AGFHA)
  • United Methodist Church (Central Avenue and 5th Street) (NRHP)

You’ve got a long straight road ahead of you. It’s miles and miles of miles and miles. About 17, until you get to White Springs.

I’m really fond of White Springs. It’s just so charming. Most of the central part is a historic district. You’ll find the historic buildings near US 41, farther off are mostly mobile homes. Still, it’s got a state park information center, with an old bath house behind it from the days when the area was a resort. Check out the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, too. If you time it right, you’ll hear the carillon tower bells. (see Google map)

There’s another state park outside the city limits, Big Shoals. Not signed at all, so it’s a dickens to find unless you have a map. Apparently it’s popular with rafters, since there are rapids along the river.

According to AGFHA, there are tobacco barns scattered around the county. If so, I haven’t seen any along US 41. If anyone knows where some of them are, could you let me know? If you jog over to US 441, you’ll find the Corinth Methodist Church. I stumbled on it accidently while in search of the Goodbread-Black Farm Historic District. Didn’t find that, but the church was a pleasant surprise. The . Ironic that later I found that the church was in AGFHA. Sometimes it’s worth zigging when you think you should be zagging.

Back to US 41, and off the road somewhat is another old church, Falling Creek. The church and cemetery are on the NRHP. Another old wooden church that’s in excellent condition. The cemetery is rather small, and covered by trees. It’s a quiet spot, so walk around and think of what the lives of the people here were like. (see Google map)

That’s it for now. See you on the road!

Route length: 60 miles

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The Corinth Methodist Church is north of Lake City, in the north central part of the state. It is included in “A Guide to Florida’s Historic Architecture”. See more photos here.

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Some of the pictures I took on various NRHP roadtrips around the state. This was the first year I had a digital camera.

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