“Florida Trailblazer” Featured in Lutz, Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel Magazines in Pasco County, Florida

Florida Trailblazer in Lutz MagazineI am honored and extremely grateful to be featured in the September 2019 issues of Wesley Chapel, Lutz and Land O’ Lakes Magazines distributed in Pasco County, Florida.

Pasco County is a local stomping ground for me where there are many wilderness areas and historical sites to see and learn about. So over the years I have always strived to help educate people around these areas about some of these places through my various videos and other projects. So when I was presented with the opportunity to be featured in these magazines I was really excited! Although it is much more than about sharing about the history and wilderness in these regions but all over Florida as well.

I am so glad that I am able to inspire so many people through my adventures and really grateful for the opportunity to share about them. I appreciate your support thank you very much! I hope you enjoy this article see the link below. Special thanks to Sandy Parrish and KEM Media Group for the feature.

Magazine Article “Into The Woods” by Sandy Parrish

Thanks to Jae Patrick (Cover Photo Credit)

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Turpentine Camp at Richloam Wildlife Management Area

Exploring in this area of Withlacoochee State Forest near Lacoochee I may have found remains from an old turpentine camp. Around the area were herty cups both clay and metal ones. Along with some bricks, barrel rings and other evidence from the past. This site may have been associated with The Dutton Still. During the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s turpentine was a big industry here along with the sawmills.

This is some of the history I found on the area, more can be read at the link posted below: “Jim Dutton moved his family from Statesboro, Bullock County, Georgia, to Lacoochee, and began operating a turpentine still east of town near the Withlacoochee River and the community of Clay Sink. In the early 1900’s the pioneers who operated these abundant turpentine stills and small sawmills throughout the county owned or leased thousands of acres of forest land. The resinous sap of the pine tree was extracted by chipping a strip of bark from the tree. Then a ceramic or tin cup was placed underneath to catch the life blood of the tree as it dripped from the wound. Crews of men were hired to make daily rounds of the woods to empty the sap into barrels. Wooden sleighs or wagons pulled by four-mule teams would transport the barrels from the woods to the still. Here the sap was poured into a vat and boiled to make turpentine which was used in paint and other products.”

My Videos

Turpentine Camp at Richloam WMA (Part One)

Turpentine Camp at Richloam WMA (Part Two)

Resources

Turpentine Stills in Pasco County

Withlacoochee State Forest

Roadside History: Historic Dupree Gardens in Pasco County

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Old Gatehouse

Near the old community of Ehren in Pasco County was a thriving park during the 1940’s known as Dupree Gardens. It was developed by J. William Dupree who was an Attorney. After sustaining an accident and not being able to continue on in his profession he developed the gardens and opened them to the public. The remains of the old gatehouse can still be seen from Ehren Cutoff Road and there is a historical marker at the site describing the history.

 

The historical marker reads as follows: “Developed by Tampa Attorney J. Wm. Dupree, t he gardens opened to the public on December 1, 1940. The attraction consisted of 900 acres of flowering trees and plants and included a lodge and a tearoom with gift shop. It also featured electric powered glass-bottomed boats on Dupree Lake. Even though gasoline rationing had caused the facility to be “Closed For The Duration” in 1943, a New York City auction of Dupree Gardens’ camellia blooms netted $250,000.00 for the War Bond effort in 1944. Dupree Gardens, still a beautiful garden spot, briefly reopened in 1946 for some civic events.The tearoom burned in 1995. The lodge (converted to a home by the Hendrix family), the gatehouse (now in ruins) and some scattered plantings are all that remains of this early Florida theme park. Beginning in 2003, Beazer Homes developed 468 acres as Dupree Lakes.”

My Video

Dupree Gardens Historic Site in Pasco County

Resources

Historic Dupree Gardens

History of Ehren

 

Mount Carmel Church and Cemetery in Pasco County

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Located in the old community of Ehren in Pasco County is a historical site known as the Mount Carmel Church and Cemetery. The Mount Carmel African methodist Episcopal Church was a wooden structure and the cemetery was nearby. One of the early pastors was Reverend Christopher C. Marshall, followed in later years by Reverend Byrel Dawkins. Sometime after the Great Depression the congregation folded and members joined other local churches.

The cemetery may have up to forty unmarked graves, the date of the first burial is unknown. This cemetery could possibly date back to the mid-1800’s, the first marked grave is 1903 and the latest marked grave is 1954. A few of the tombstones still remain but aren’t in good condition however the site does seem to be maintained. In 2006, the Pasco County Black Caucus, in corporation with the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners and other concerned individuals, initiated efforts to provide recognition and perpetual care of this site.

The Ehren Pine Company sawmill employed a large number of local African Americans. Many of them lived in company housing, others worked in agriculture and for the railroad. After the sawmill burned in 1920, many residents moved away. Some residents remained and worked in Drexel and Odessa and other nearby communities.

My Video

Mount Carmel Church and Cemetery in Pasco County

Resources

Mount Carmel Cemetery

Among The Headstones of Mount Carmel Cemetery

History of Ehren

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Mount Carmel Cemetery
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Mount Carmel Cemetery
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Mount Carmel Cemetery
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Mount Carmel Cemetery

The Ghost Town of Sturkey in The Green Swamp

Exploring Sturkey

Exploring Sturkey

In an area of The Green Swamp I found this site while I was searching for a ghost town known as “Sturkey”. You can see the town still shown on some maps. So I made it an adventure to go and try find it, the site can be found by an old railroad grade in the West Tract of The Green Swamp. I have investigated the area a few times now and still come away with more questions than answers.

A lot of the remnants seemed to be industrial or manufacturing related.  One of the first areas I saw off of the railroad grade was a clearing with woods and hills behind it. As I begun exploring around the clearing I started to see chains, scraps of metal, barrel rings, pieces of iron and wood. In one section I even saw an old steering wheel which indicates that vehicles were out here at one time. Everything was scattered about and this area was particularly large so it was a lot to cover. I imagined that maybe some structures were here at one time but it was hard to really tell.

As I ventured further into the clearing I came to an area where some woods are along with some swampy areas as well. It was dry enough to continue on though. This is where I found a large foundation where it appears structures and other things were attached. The grass and forest floor are taking over the foundation but you can still see a lot of it. It was here where I began to see more industrial related stuff. Attached to the foundation were iron plates and lots of bolts as well. Along the edge of the foundation were some wall ruins left over from two of the structures. It appears that conveyor belts were attached to the top of these which could indicate some kind of mining operation. I have seen similar ruins in other parts of the Green Swamp where old mining operations were at one time.

I left that area and continued further into the woods following what looks to be old dirt roads that were part of the townsite. I eventually got into this area where a lot of rolling hills were. I found more evidence of past activity such as an old corral or hog pen. It seemed very old and fragile. I found one area out here that had a lot of debris lying around. Possibly items from an old building. On top of one of the hills I found an old rusted out license plate. I couldn’t make out the numbers but you could see that it was a Florida license plate.

I headed out of the woods here and over to the edge of the townsite then I circled around those areas to see what else I could uncover. I came across an area that I thought was an old hunt camp at first. But as I investigated it further I saw more industrial type stuff similar to what I had seen previously. It appears this was connected with the site as well and back behind it was another swampy area with more concrete ruins.

So far this is all the history that I can find on the town of Sturkey: “Sturkey was a “company town” for the Cummers Lumber Company. Cummers began construction of a sawmill & box factory in nearby Lacoochee in 1922. The factory they built was the largest of its kind at the time, & continued in operation until 1959. ”

I have covered a lot of ground so far but I have a feeling there is more to discover so I am looking forward to future adventures here!
My Videos
Resources

Ruins at Sturkey

Ruins at Sturkey

Remains at Sturkey

Remains at Sturkey

Old Corral or Hog Pen

Old Corral or Hog Pen

Remains at Sturkey

Remains at Sturkey

Old Conveyor Belts

Old Conveyor Belts

Piece of Iron

Piece of Iron

Foundation at Sturkey

Foundation at Sturkey

Foundations at Sturkey

Foundations at Sturkey

Remains at Sturkey

Remains at Sturkey

Wall Ruins at Sturkey

Wall Ruins at Sturkey

Wall Ruins at Sturkey

Wall Ruins at Sturkey

Old Road at Sturkey

Old Road at Sturkey

Remains at Sturkey

Remains at Sturkey

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Remains at Sturkey

Foundation

Foundation

Old Steering Wheel

Old Steering Wheel

Swamp Areas

Swamp Areas

Foundation

Foundation

Old License Plate

Old License Plate