Roadside History: Abandoned Highway 90 Bridge on The Suwannee River

Roadside History: Abandoned Highway 90 Bridge on The Suwannee River

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Old Highway 90 Bridge

One of my favorite places to explore in Florida is along the Suwannee River with many wilderness areas and historical sites to experience there. The area just has that “old Florida” feel to it. On this visit I went to check out an abandoned bridge that crosses over the river. It was part of the old Highway 90 at one time and the bridge was built around 1925. I read that it was also known as the Hillman Bridge or Ellaville Bridge over the years. The bridge is nearly a thousand feet across and as you walk out onto the bridge you experience amazing views of the Suwannee River.

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Highway 90 Bridge Construction 1920’s

The area was once part of the ghost town of Ellaville back in the 1800’s. There is a park next to the bridge with a historical marker describing some of the history about the town. Behind the parking lot and down under the bridge you can find some trails to hike with more scenic views and even more history that can be discovered if you look good enough. The Hillman Bridge was abandoned sometime in the 1980’s when the modern Route 90 bridge was built next to it. Today this old bridge still stands as a relic and reminder of history, hopefully it will remain there for many years to come.

My Video

Abandoned Highway 90 Bridge

Resources

Bridge Hunter – Hillman Bridge

Ellaville Ghost Town

Roadside History: Lake Monroe Bridge

Roadside History: Lake Monroe Bridge

Passing over Lake Monroe where it meets the St. Johns River you can see the old Lake Monroe Bridge. Just off of Hwy 17 there is a park called Wayside Park in Seminole County. It is a popular place for fishing and boating. The bridge was Florida’s first electrically operated swing bridge and was built in 1933. It was part of the original Hwy 17, today the swing span is preserved as fishing pier. There is a historical there that describes the history.

“The Lake Monroe Bridge was the first electrically operated swing bridge in Florida. In 1932-1933 the State used federal assistance to build this bridge, which replaced a wooden toll bridge that was manually operated. The construction of the bridge provided economic relief for an area hurt by the economic collapse of the Depression era. The bridge was fabricated by Ingall’s Iron Works of Birmingham, Alabama. The swing machinery manufactured by Earle Gear and Machine Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was erected by W. W. White Steel Construction of St. Petersburg, Florida. Kreis Contracting Company of Knoxville, Tennessee was the general contractor for the Florida Department of Transportation. The Florida Department of Transportation and Seminole County cooperated in preserving the swing span as a fishing pier when the new Benedict Bridge was completed in 1994.

The Lake Monroe Bridge had historic impact on the communities of the area, but also is of historical value as an example of a branch of bridge engineering.

The Lake Monroe bridge was 627 feet, and included a 235 foot swing span. It carried the main route linking Daytona Beach and Tampa, via Deland, Sanford, Orlando, and Lakeland. It could pivot 360 degrees on its curved rack and two spur pinions.

The Warren-type through truss construction had a central panel section peaked to accommodate the drive machinery. The Warren-type truss is considered the most economical construction for continuous spans. It is characterized by diagonals that alternate in direction. The first diagonal beam starts at base level and goes up to the top. The next diagonal starts at the top and goes down to the base level. The diagonals are in tension and compression in alternate panels. To meet the heavy stresses of the swing span operation the bridge arms were heavily reinforced and had riveted connections at all stress points. The harbor for Lake Monroe Park in Volusia County was created by fill taken for the approaches to the Lake Monroe Bridge.”

Visit the links below to see my video, photos and for more information.

My Video

Old Lake Monroe Bridge

Resources

Lake Monroe Bridge on Bridge Hunter

Lake Monroe on Waymarking

Lake Monroe Historical Marker

Roadside History: Joshua Davis House in Gadsden County

Roadside History: Joshua Davis House in Gadsden County

This is a fascinating historical site you can see along the Blue Star Memorial Highway near the town of Quincy in Gadsden County. It is known as the Joshua Davis House. Here is some of the history about the house: “In the 1820’s, settlers from Georgia, South Carolina and other states came to the new United States Territory of Florida in search of land to homestead. One such frontiersman was Thomas Dawsey, who by 1824 was residing in the Gadsden County area. In 1827 Dawsey purchased the 160 acres upon which this house stands from the United States Public Land Office, a common practice for homesteaders. Another pioneer in the region was Joshua Davis, who brought his family from Laurens County, South Carolina to a farm two miles west of Quincy ca. 1828. He soon moved to the North Mosquito Creek community located about a mile northeast of this site. Between 1830 and 1849, Joshua Davis acquired the Dawsey property and moved with his wife and five children into what would be their permanent home. By 1830, a road had been built through this area from Quincy to the Apalachicola River crossing at Chattahoochee. Stage-coaches carrying mail and passengers through this fertile and well-populated farming region traveled over what was known as “the upper road.” Some evidence suggests the Joshua Davis House served as a stage-coach stop and perhaps as a horse-changing station.

This house was the focal point of a cotton, tobacco, and corn plantation which by 1859 consisted of 1440 acres of land on which Joshua Davis had as many as 33 slaves, 6 horses, and 135 cattle. A map of 1857 designated this general locality as “Davis.” After the death of Joshua Davis in 1859 and of his wife Esther in 1876, the house was occupied by their grand-daughter Esther and her husband Lieut. Mortimer B. Bates, C.S.A. This house has been used as a frontier home, tenant house, and storage facility. It was originally built as a one room, 18′ by 27′ dressed timber structure with a front porch and a heating-cooking fireplace at the west end. Early alterations included a rear porch, attic sleeping loft, and east room. Joshua Davis enclosed the rear porch into shed rooms opening onto a breezeway, refurbished the interior and exterior with hand-beaded siding, and is thought to have added a separated kitchen in the rear. The additions include several architectural elements not commonly found in Florida. This house, which was still the property of descendants of Joshua Davis at the time of its restoration in 1974, is included on the National Register of Historic Places.”

There is a historical marker at the location which describes this history.  It originally stood right on the highway but they moved it during the restoration. It now sits back a little ways from the highway on a hunting preserve. Events are hosted at the house from time to time. This is just one of the amazing historical sites you can see in this part of Florida. Check out the links below for more information on this place and how to find it.

Resources

Joshua Davis House Historical Marker

Joshua Davis House Wikipedia

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

 

Roadside History: Pershing Highway in Tiger Bay State Forest (Part One)

Old Deland Rd (Pershing Highway)

Old Deland Rd (Pershing Highway)

Part of the Pershing Highway can be found in Tiger Bay State Forest. This historical road was built in 1917 and was the first highway to connect DeLand to Daytona Beach. It was used up until Hwy 92 opened , the road became abandoned in 1947.

If you are passing by this area it’s a nice little stop off where you can experience a little bit of history. You can drive on parts of the road in this section, plus there are some nice areas to explore in the forest as well.

As you pull off the now busy highway into the forest it’s hard to imagine that this one lane brick road was once the main highway through here. You can access the road from several points along US Hwy 92 along where it cuts through the forest.

My Video

The Pershing Highway

Resources

Volusia County Roads and History

Out in The Boonies: Tiger Bay State Forest

Tiger Bay State Forest

Map-Location

Pershing Highway

Pershing Highway

Pershing Highway

Pershing Highway

Pershing Highway

Pershing Highway

Roadside History: Ghost Town of Green Pond (Old Grove Barn)

Old Grove Barn

Old Grove Barn

In Polk County is the old community of Green Pond. The community began back in 1879 with The Green Pond Baptist church being founded there in 1890. The old church is gone and many of the old buildings but one of them still remains.

This structure was once the grove barn for the nearby citrus Grove. I found it on Green Pond Rd just before Green Pond Cemetery. It can be seen from the road and is a reminder of days gone by. I am not sure how old it is but if I can find out more information I’ll update this post. Check out these photos and my video for a good look at the place. If you are passing through this old community be sure to check out some of the roadside history!

My Video

Old Grove Barn in Green Pond

Resources

Ghost Town of Green Pond

Location

Road Sign by Structure

Road Sign by Structure

Old Grove Barn

Old Grove Barn

Old Grove Barn

Old Grove Barn

Inside The Grove Barn

Inside The Grove Barn

Inside The Grove Barn

Inside The Grove Barn

Old Grove Barn

Old Grove Barn

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