Radar Hill in Citrus County

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“The Valley”

There is a place off the beaten path in Withlacoochee State Forest known to many locals as “Radar Hill” and when I first learned of that name I wanted to find out more about the history behind it. I have hiked around the area and this part of the forest reminds me of a scenic valley because of the rolling hills and karst formations. This section of the forest is located in Citrus County along the Brooksville Ridge. “The Brooksville Ridge is a linear, positive-relief topographic feature extending from northern Citrus County, through Hernando County, and into southern Pasco County.” These areas of the florida have a lot of hilly and karst terrain.

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Similar Radar Base in North Carolina

During the Cold War years starting around 1958 to 1970, there was a radar facility located atop the one of the hills in the area. It was known as the “Inverness Gap-Filler Annex,” the radar facility was operated by the U.S. Air Force as part of a nationwide network of air-defense early-warning surveillance radars. The intension of the base was to watch the skies for attacking Soviet bombers and thanks in part to this radar network all across the country no attack ever came. Due to the curvature of the earth, as well as hills, river valleys, and other obstacles, gaps existed at lower elevations where the long-range radars could not detect targets so these radar sites were a vital defense network.

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Radar Hill Area

The reason this site was chose is because “Radar Hill” itself was one of the highest points in the Withlacoochee State Forest, and offered a clear line of sight for many miles. Placing the radar on top of the limestone hills plugged the holes.

I am not sure of the exact timeframe but sometime after the site was used by the military it then became the location of a limestone mining operation. The land was mined and the hills were excavated. The radar and any evidence from the base were removed or destroyed during that time. The mining operations ceased eventually and the area became part of Withlacoochee State Forest. New trees were planted and slowly nature has been reclaiming the land here. The former mine now appears as open valleys through the forest which makes for a scenic experience. I myself have nicknamed the area “The Valley”. Check the link below on How Radar Hill got it’s name for more photos and information.

The site is public land now although there are no marked hiking trails here so it can be accessed from some of the old roads and paths around the area. Be cautious if you explore around and some areas within this section have been fenced off with no trespassing signs.

My Video

“The Valley” in Withlacoochee State Forest

Resources

How Radar Hill Got It’s Name

Withlacoochee State Forest

Brooksville Ridge

 

Holder Cemetery in Citrus County

This is an old cemetery I found in an interesting location, it is called Holder Cemetery. Located at the intersection of County Road 491 and U.S. Route 41 in Citrus County. This is also the location of the small community known as Holder.

The cemetery is small and only has seven people listed on the burial records. When I explored around the site I could only find three tombstones though. I would like to learn more history on this area, if I come across more information I will post an update. If you have any information please feel free to contact me as well. It would be nice to see a sign placed at the cemetery describing the history. I am sure many pass by it and don’t even know it’s there…

My Video

Holder Cemetery in Citrus County

Resources

Holder Cemetery Information

Intersection by Cemetery

Intersection by Cemetery

 

Holder Cemetery

Holder Cemetery

 

Holder Cemetery

Holder Cemetery

Exploring Holder Mine in Citrus Wildlife Management Area

Shovel Mark at Holder Mine

Shovel Mark from Digging at Holder Mine

I explored around Holder Mine in Citrus Wildlife Management Area located in Withlacoochee State Forest and found some interesting things left over from the old mining operations. At one time phosphate was mined here but long since then nature has reclaimed the area so it’s nice to experience the trails around the mine. Along the way I found some old pillars and a large foundation near one of the pits.

The area where the pillars are seem to link into the old railroad grade that passes by. There were a couple of them left around two feet tall and you could see where something was attached to them. Closer to the area by the railroad grade was a series of larger pyramid-shaped pillars as well. These may have been used as some kind of foundation to something. Maybe a water tower for example but I am not sure.

As I explored near the bottom of the mine where it has filled up with water I saw a large foundation down there. You could see where some kind of structure stood on top of it. If you have any suggestions on what some of this stuff could be feel free to comment. I posted some photos and be sure to watch my videos for a good look around the area.

My Videos

Mining Ruins at Holder Mine

Mining Ruins at Holder Mine 2

Possible Water Tower Foundation

Pillar Remains

Hiking Around The Mine

Resources

Citrus WMA

Withlacoochee State Forest

Florida Hikes! Citrus Hiking Trail

My Hike at Holder Mine

Exploring Holder Mine

Exploring Holder Mine

Dig Mark at Mine

Dig Mark at Mine

Pillar by Mine

Pillar by Mine

Pillar by Mine

Pillar by Mine

Possible Water Tower Foundation

Possible Water Tower Foundation

Foundation by Mine

Foundation by Mine

Foundation by Mine

Foundation by Mine

Relics of Orleans Ghost Town in Withlacoochee State Forest (Water Cistern)

Water Cistern

Water Cistern

In the Citrus Wildlife Management Area at Withlacoochee State Forest is the old townsite of Orleans. Orleans was settled in 1885 by Reverend Young as a farming and citrus community. The population in 1887 was 60 and in 1895, it was 100. Probably wiped out during the big freeze of 1895.

For sometime now I have been exploring areas around what I what think is the townsite to see what I can uncover. Awhile back I got a tip that there was a water cistern out there but didn’t know the location of it. Well I finally was able to make it out to the area where the water cistern is. I found it south of Orleans Cemetery in the woods there. Along the way I even discovered pieces of Herty Cups from the turpentine era in that section of the forest.

The water cistern has a brick lined narrow opening at the top and opens up wider underground. I would say the cistern is around 20 feet deep or so. It was empty and I could only view it from the top as there is now way down into it. The opening is around 2-3 feet wide and stands about a foot off of the ground.

I wondered if there was a homestead nearby at one time but didn’t see anything in the immediate area. I did find an old barrel ring that was about it but who knows what else could be found. I had been searching for this cistern for awhile and am glad to have seen it. It is just one of the interesting things I have found while exploring this area. Check out some of the photos below and my video as well.

My Video

Old Water Cistern

Resources

Withalcoochee State Forest

Citrus WMA

Orleans Cemetery

Water Cistern

Water Cistern

Water Cistern

Water Cistern

“Etna” Ghost Town in Withlacoochee State Forest

Barrel Ring & Brick

Barrel Ring & Brick

In the Withlacoochee State Forest I found an old ghost town called “Etna”. It was a turpentine camp from 1898 to 1915 and it has long since vanished. When I arrived at the site the area was heavily wooded with many overgrown trails. I imagine these trails were once old roads for the town.

I explored around the site extensively finding scattered remains. Some bricks, herty cups and other evidence from turpentine activity. During it’s peak the town had 50 buildings and a population of around 200 people.

I learned that the site was initially discovered back in the early 1990’s when they surveyed the area for a pipeline. Many of the local historians didn’t know of the site either at the time of it’s discovery. Now that the site is known we now have a window into the past.

My Videos
Resources
Barrel Rings

Barrel Rings

Chimney Remains

Chimney Remains

Old Pipe

Old Pipe

Herty Cup Fragments

Herty Cup Fragments

Building Foundation

Building Foundation