Old Homestead Site in Goethe State Forest

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Pond by Homestead Site

On this adventure I explored an old homestead site that is now part of Goethe State Forest located in Levy County. There is a lot of history here along with a scenic wilderness so I always enjoy visiting. I’ve seen everything from railroad, ranching and turpentine history here. So it seems like there is an always adventure that awaits when I explore this wilderness.

This area was located by a pond and the homestead and pond can be seen on old aerial photos from the 1940’s but not sure how much older than that it may be. When I look at these documents it is amazing to see how the areas have changed over the years compared to modern times. Nature has reclaimed most of these sites. Back then this section was cleared out around the homestead and the pond would have been a good water source. There may have been some livestock on the property as well.

Today the area is popular for equestrians and some of the horse trails go by the site. I found an overgrown path off of the trail that may have been a road to the homestead at one time. So I followed that for a little while until I came into a clearing by the pond, I could see some pieces of wood and metal scattered around. I was by the homestead area and the same pond that I saw on the aerial photo was just through the clearing and surrounding woods.

That is an incredible feeling standing in a place like this and you think of times gone by, who lived here and the memories that were made. It is lost to nature now but you still get a sense of the past in these places. Seeing some of the remnants from those days around the area only adds to that feeling. So as I roamed around I also found what appeared to be a well or cistern used for storing and collecting water. Nearby I saw some old bricks and part of a foundation. I spent a lot of time exploring the woods here and you can’t help but think what else may be out here. That is part of the mystery in exploring these places. Later I went down by the pond along the wooded shoreline and just took in the scenery, thinking “this is the real Florida, the old Florida…”

Below are some photos and a link to my video enjoy and thank you!

VIDEO:

RESOURCES:

Goethe State Forest Website

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The Goethe Giant at Goethe State Forest

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Goethe Giant

One of my favorite areas at Goethe State Forest is where an old cypress tree still stands known as Goethe Giant. There is a trail and boardwalk that leads you to this majestic tree that is estimated to be over 900 years old.

During the 1800’s and early 1900’s many of these cypress trees were cut down during the logging booms because this type of wood is so valuable and for its durability. The Florida wilderness was once covered with these old trees, many dating back 1,000’s of years. Some still remain today but can be difficult to find, but others like this one are nicely preserved along a trail where you can visit and experience this beautiful tree.

Check out my video and photos below to get a glimpse of this tree, the forestry website link posted also has a map indicating where the tree is along the Big Cypress Boardwalk Trail. There is a forest road you can access there which takes you to the trailhead.

My Video

The Goethe Giant at Goethe State Forest

Resources

Goethe State Forest Website

Video Diary: Champion Oak Tree at Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area

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Champion Oak

I explored this area recently known as Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area located in Levy County. I had been here several years ago but never got the chance to really look around like I wanted to. So I took my video camera and geared up for a hike in this preserve to check it out again to see what I could find.

I am really glad that I did because this time I found one of the most interesting trees I’ve ever seen while exploring the wilderness. It is a very large and old oak tree located in the woods here off one of the trails. In fact there is a sign at one of the trailheads indicating that there is a champion tree here. I can’t say for sure how old it is but from the looks of it this majestic tree has been here for a long time and has stood the test of time.

The trunk and base of the tree are very large, especially when you stand up next to it you get a true sense of it’s size. I imagine that the tree could be several hundred years old, though not sure exactly what kind of oak it is. The area is surrounded by swamps and hardwood hammocks and the forest has an ancient feel to it. It is a very scenic wilderness with lots of different wildlife and habitats.

I would say the best time to visit this place would be in the cooler and drier months you just have to check the hunting dates since it is a very popular destination for hunting. While making this video it was a challenge because it was during the summer when there was more water in the swamps and lots of mosquitos following me the entire hike. Although over the years of exploring I have learned to endure these types of challenges in the wilderness but it isn’t for everyone.

It is a rare treat to see these old trees still standing in Florida’s wilderness since many were cut down and logged out long ago. So when I do find one I truly value the experience. Check out my video and photos below to see this beautiful tree. I also posted links to where you can find more information on this preserve. To find this tree you’ll need to enter at the Parker Field entrance but there are plenty of other areas to explore here as well.

Resources:

Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area – Hunting Schedule

Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area – Map

Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area

My Video

Champion Oak Tree at Devils Hammock Wildlife Management Area

Turpentine History at Goethe State Forest

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Exploring at Goethe State Forest

Over the years I have been exploring the woods of Goethe State Forest located in Levy County. There is a rich history here along with a scenic wilderness to roam. I always seem to find something new there when I visit, everything from old homestead sites, to railroad history and even an old gravesite. Recently I have been discovering a lot of turpentine history here.

Over a hundred years ago there were turpentine operations in this area. It was once Florida’s largest industry and was a driving force behind the development of many towns and cities in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Turpentine was a ubiquitous ingredient in American household products including paints, medicines, soaps, lamp oil, ink, lubricants, hair spray, and cosmetics, just to name a few. Pine trees would be tapped for sap and resin which was used in the production of making turpentine. The camps were known as Naval stores and were typically near pine plantations.

Some of the evidence I have seen in this forest has been remains of Herty cups which were used to collect the resin and would be attached to the Pine trees with a metal gutter system. I could see many of these trees scattered throughout the wilderness here still standing with markings known as catfaces and the metal gutters attached. The term “catface” refers specifically to the scars left behind by the extraction of sap or resin from pine trees.

I will continue to explore this forest for more turpentine and other history as it one of my favorite places, it is like being transported back to another time when you can see history like this, many know it as the old Florida. As always I leave all artifacts as they are for future generations to explore and learn about, but it is also prohibited and illegal to remove artifacts from public and state lands in Florida. So please be respectful and take nothing but photos and videos when finding such sites. Remember once it’s gone, it is gone forever. Check out the photos, videos and links below to learn more, enjoy!

My Videos

Catface Trees at Goethe State Forest

Turpentine History at Goethe State Forest (Part One)

Turpentine History at Goethe State Forest (Part Two)

Resources

Turpentine and Naval Store History of North Florida

Turpentine History – Saga of the Turpentiners

Turpentine History of North Florida

History of Naval Stores

Naval Stores Handbook

Herty Cup History and Charles Herty

 

 

Lone Gravesite at Andrews Wildlife Management Area

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Gravesite

I have always enjoyed the scenic wilderness along this part of the Suwannee River at Andrews Wildlife Management Area. There are many trails and recreational opportunities here. Some of the history includes logging and agricultural uses going back to the 1800’s, the land was purchased by the Andrews family in 1945, they managed the land for outdoor recreation. The state bought the land in 1985.

One of the interesting sites I found there while exploring was a lone gravesite, the tombstone is mostly gone now so I couldn’t see who was buried here and when. There is a wooden fence surrounding the grave so it seems to be maintained from time to time.

After some further research I was able to track down some information on the site. It is the grave of an infant child that died around 1898 his name was Walter Miller Owens, the father was a man named Randall Owens. So far that is all the history I could uncover on the area, they also may have had a homestead nearby.

It is amazing seeing these areas today and imagining how they once were and who lived there. You can’t help but get a sense of the history in places like this and this gravesite is a reminder from a time long gone.

Video Tour

Lone Gravesite at Andrews Wildlife Management Area

Resources

Andrews W.M.A.

Levy County Cemeteries – Owens Family Cemetery

Video Diary: Hike to Bailey Mine in Levy County

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Bailey Mine

This is a video I put together from an area known as the Watermelon Pond Tract in Levy County. It is actually a section of Goethe State Forest but just not connected to the main part. There is a trailhead that can be found near the town of Archer known as Bailey Mine Trailhead.

If you study old maps of this area there is actually a mine here known as Bailey Mine. It was used for phosphate mining in the early 1900’s. On this adventure I set out to find the mine and see what else I could discover along the way. There was also turpentine operations in the area as well so I thought I may see some evidence from that.

There is a railroad line that was used back then, today it is abandoned and mostly overgrown. I figured if I could find that I could navigate my way towards Bailey Mine since the railroad went right to it.

I found the railroad line along one of the hiking trails and followed that for several miles, checking out some of the scenery and areas along the way. I did find some Herty cup fragments from the turpentine industry and took some time to explore that history as well.

I managed to follow the railroad line to where it ends at Bailey Mine. This mine is filled in with water so who knows how deep it really goes. The other mines I found in the area were dry so you could get a really good view of how much digging was going on and how deep they were. Back then you would’ve seen machinery all around these places. As I explored Bailey Mine I went along the bottom of it and circled around the entire mine.

I really enjoyed this adventure I had explored this area a few years before but wanted to return to see what else I may be able to uncover. The beauty and history of these places always keep you coming back for more. Check out my video to see my adventure, thanks!

Video of Bailey Mine at Watermelon Pond Tract in Levy County

Link to Watermelon Pond Tract in Goethe State Forest

Roadside History: The Patterson-McInnis Steam Locomotive

Patterson-McInnis Train

Patterson-McInnis Train

This is part of a series of posts known as “Roadside History”. These posts will feature historical sites you can find along various roadways around Florida while on your travels.

Near Gulf Hammock in Levy County on US Hwy 19 / US 98 on the western side of the road you can see this relic of history. It is an old steam locomotive known as the Patterson-McInnis Steam Locomotive. It was built in the early 1900’s to haul logs from the area woodlands to the sawmill. It often pulled 40 cars and was retired from service around WWII. The engine was donated to Levy County in 1969 by the Patterson-McInnis lumber company.

Today it is restored and on display, there is a historical marker by it describing the history. “This locomotive, known locally as “Three Spot”, often pulled 30 to 40 cars as it transported logs from area woodlands to the Patterson-McInnis Sawmill. Originally a wood burning engine thought to be built around 1915, it was converted to steam during its service, which ended about World War II. The locomotive was donated to Levy County by the Paterson-McInnis Lumber Company in 1969 and maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation in the Gulf Hammock Wayside Park.”

Here are the directions to the site be sure to check it out sometime and experience some roadside history!

My Video

Patterson-McInnis Steam Train

Resources

Patterson-McInnis Train Marker

Patterson-McInnis Locomotive early 1900's

Patterson-McInnis Locomotive early 1900’s

Patterson-McInnis Steam Locomotive 2015

Patterson-McInnis Steam Locomotive 2015

Patterson-McInnis Steam Locomotive 2015

Patterson-McInnis Steam Locomotive 2015

Dedication Marker

Dedication Marker