Florida Tales

Florida tales are stories and fragments submitted to our website by visitors or written by Florida Backroads Travel.  

Some are written by the website author, but many are from people who just yearned to tell us interesting stories from their lives.

Most of these stories don't quite fit into the formal categories we've established for Florida-Backroads-Travel.com.  For example, there is a story about a large ghost horse reportedly seen by motorists many times near Osteen.  It just doesn't quite fit to put a story like that in an article about Osteen, so we've put it here.

The titles of these Florida Tales are presented below as links.

Click on a link and enjoy a story.

Crossing the St Johns River on the Fort Gates Ferry
Florida's oldest ferry carries two cars at a time across the river from the Ocala National Forest to a rural part of Florida.

Jackie Gleason's Final Resting Place
The legendary entertainer put Florida on the map when he moved his TV show to Miami Beach.

Frances Langford's Outrigger Resort
The famous actress and her husband, Ralph Evinrude, were often in attendance at her Jensen Beach resort.

Frederick Delius House
The famous composer's house is preserved on the campus of Jacksonville University.

DeBary Florida and Ox Fibre Brush Company
An old abandoned factory where brooms and history were made from the lowly palmetto.

The Day I Chased Away the Highwaymen
An engineer who is not an expert on art chases away some Florida painters who were destined to be famous.

Walt Disney's Roots Are In Paisley, Florida.
His pioneer maternal grandparents rest side by side in an old cemetery in this Central Florida place.

Welaka, Florida on the Peaceful St. Johns River
This little Old Florida riverside town is great for fishing and just laying back and relaxing.

The Old Wabasso Swing Bridge Goes To Disney World
When the State decided to replace an old swing bridge near Vero Beach, Disney decided to buy it and move it to Walt Disney World.

Gator, Glidden Chemical Co. & Jacksonville 1962
Gator was an old black laborer who wanted to retire but couldn't prove to Social Security what year he had been born.  His friends helped him.

Ziba King, Fort Ogden and Arcadia Cattle Baron 
When Ziba King died in 1901 he owned 50,000 head of cattle worth $500,000. This represented 10 percent of all the cattle in Florida. 

Pier 66, Where Are You?  It Was Our Favorite Watering Hole
This revolving lounge on the top of the Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale was a favorite local hangout for years.  Then management made it more exclusive.

Sanford and Osteen:  A Florida Ghost Story
A blacksmith named Sligh Ernest owned a horse which stood twenty-two hands high and weighed 3,200 pounds. When the horse died, it had to be hauled by a tractor to its burial pit beside Celery Avenue.

The Beeline Ferry From Bradenton to St. Petersburg
In the old days before the first Sunshine Skyway bridge was built, it was a 69 mile trip from Manatee to Pinellas County. The ferry shortened the trip to 22 miles and took one hour.

Rainbow Springs: Lost Florida Tourist Attraction
This tourist attraction was just north of Dunnellon and at one time it was quite a popular tourist attraction. It was not as big as Silver Springs further up north in Ocala, but it did pretty good. 

Lewis Plantation and Turpentine Still
This old time Florida tourist attraction defied all probabilities of succeeding. It was on U.S. 41 about two miles south of Brooksville.

Hitler's Yacht was in Jacksonville
A sailing yacht spends some of its final days in a shipyard on the Trout River in Jacksonville before sinking to a watery grave in Miami Beach.

The Darker Side of Jim Crow Florida
Gus was one of the best men I ever knew. He worked for me on one of the soil testing drill rigs that I ran out of Tampa shortly after I graduated from the University of Florida in 1966.

Flavet Villages at the University of Florida
It probably would have been too expensive for me to go the University of Florida in the 1960s had it not been for the existence of married student housing known as Flavet Villages.

Evinston, Florida and the Wood and Swink Store
This old Florida village is a short hop from Cross Creek, and is worth a trip just to visit the Wood and Swink Store and post office.  It's on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Kenansville and Henry Flagler's Divorce
This spot on US-441 is halfway between Yeehaw Junction and Holopaw. Travelers whiz through without knowing the history of the place. It's name ties into the history of one of Florida's iconic developers, Henry Morrison Flagler. 

Mathers Bridge Restaurant Remembered, Merritt Island
The Mathers Bridge Restaurant was near the south end of Merritt Island at the west end of the Mathers Bridge that connects the island to Indian Harbour Beach.  It was destroyed for economic reasons in 1992.

Hurricane Charley Changed Punta Gorda
This 2004 storm did so much damage it changed the face of the town like nothing else could have.

The Lonely Port Charlotte Knight
A homemade statue by the side of the road is pop art.

Homosassa:  Lost in Time
This quiet place on the river is Old Florida serenity at its best.

Yeehaw Junction
This crossroads place with the funny name is well known by many Floridians and tourists.

Hastings, Florida.  A Long Way From Iwo Jima
A Navy veteran comes home after World War Two and tries to make a living in the potato business.

Lake Wales and Small Town Hotels
Many old Florida towns still have grand old hotels from the 1920s land boom.  Some are crumbling, some are restored.

Do You Have a Florida Tale You'd Like to Share?

Do you have a story about something that happened in Florida? This is where you can write about it.

We don't have time to do a lot of editing and spell checking, but if your story is accepted you will notified. If it is not accepted, you won't hear a word from us. We send no rejection letters.

If your story is accepted it will become a permanent page on Florida-Backroads-Travel.com with your byline and a URL you can share with your friends or put on your resume'. We can't pay you money, but you will always have an article on line.

We'd like your story to be at least 200 words long (that fills about half of the text box below) but longer is great. Go for it!

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What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Mount Dora Getaway 
Mount Dora is the perfect, little weekend getaway if you live in South Florida and enjoy a peaceful, artsy, small town vibe. It also holds a special place …

The Day I Chased Away the Highwaymen 
I went to school to become a civil engineer. There were no art appreciation courses for engineers back in the days I attended the University of Florida. …

The Old Wabasso Bridge Finds a New Home at Walt Disney World 
Disney's Vero Beach Resort opened in 1995 on Orchid Island just south of the road to the Wabasso Bridge. I wonder how many of the guests enjoying their …

Gator, Glidden Chemical and Jacksonville 1962 
These recollections are what I remember from the actual events. I worked at Glidden Chemical Company in Jacksonville, Florida from 1962 to 1963. The …

Fort Ogden, Arcadia and Ziba King The Florida Cattle Baron 
When Ziba King died in 1901 he reportedly owned 50,000 head of cattle worth $500,000. This represented 10 percent of all the cattle in Florida. He was …

Flavet Villages at the University of Florida 
I attended the University of Florida in Gainvesville, Florida from 1963 until graduation in 1966. It probably would have been too expensive for me to …

Evinston, Florida and the Wood & Swink Store 
Evinston is a short hop from Cross Creek, and is worth a trip just to visit the Wood and Swink Store and post office. The store is one of the few operating …

Kenansville: Henry Flagler's Divorce 
Kenansville is a spot on US-441 about halfway between Yeehaw Junction and Holopaw. Most travelers whiz through without knowing anything about the history …

Mathers Bridge Restaurant Merritt Island Florida 
The painting above is by Joyce Warner and it's titled "Mathers Bridge Remembered". The Mathers Bridge Restaurant was near the south end of Merritt Island …

DeBary Florida, Benson Junction and Ox Fibre Brush Company 
Back in the 1970's I was wandering around the back roads near DeBary, Florida, and came upon an old abandoned factory on the west side of US 17-92 on Benson …

Paisley, Florida. Walt Disney's Roots 
Paisley is a small unincorporared village between DeLand and The Villages on Lake County Road 42. CR-42 meanders along the southern edge of the Ocala …

Hitler's Yacht Was In Jacksonville 
In the 1980's, I came across an interesting old derelict sailboat in a Jacksonville boatyard on the Trout River in North Jax. A worker said the yacht …

Sanford and Osteen
A Florida Backroads 'Ghost Story'
Everybody knows that Apopka is called 'The Foliage Capital of the World.' But did you know Sanford was once known as 'The Celery Capital?' The road …

The Bee Line Ferry From Bradenton To St Pete 
Do any of you oldtimers remember when the Bee Line Ferry crossed Tampa Bay from Bradenton to St Petersburg? In the old days before the first Sunshine …

Welaka, Florida 
Welaka is on the east bank of the St. Johns River about halfway between Palatka and Deland. It is not on the main highway, so you have to work a bit to …

Fort Lauderdale
Pier 66 Where Are You?
Pier 66 means different things to different people depending on whether they are new to Florida or have been around a few years. My Pier 66 is a tall …

Lake Wales and Small Town Hotels 
Bok Tower Gardens is near Lake Wales, a great little place to visit after your communion with the serenity of Bok Tower. The 1920's were boom times …

Yeehaw Junction 
Follow SR-60 west out of Vero Beach and you will come to a genuine slice of Old Florida. Yeehaw Junction, Florida is at the intersection of US-441 and …

Homosassa: Lost In Time 
Weeki Wachee is a fun place to visit. After you have enjoyed this classic attraction, you might run up US-19 to Homosassa and take a look at the real …

Frances Langford's Outrigger Resort 
In 1969 I was working on the foundation investigation for the future St Lucie Nuclear Power Plant on Hutchinson Island. I stayed in nearby Fort Pierce …

Frederick Delius House, Jacksonville University 
This house is on the campus of Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the home of Frederick Delius at Solano Grove on the St. Johns …

Florida by Bicycle 
Florida By Bicycle - The Best Way To See The Sunshine State Bicycling is a sport on the rise - and for very good reason. Not only is it great for …

Hastings, Florida. A Long Way From Iwo Jima. 
My friend Howard Hunter was born and raised in Espanola, a little village near Bunnell in Flagler County. His father was a pioneer Florida Cracker county …

The Lonely Port Charlotte Knight 
Port Charlotte sprawls along Florida's gulf coast for seemingly endless miles north of Punta Gorda and the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor. It is one …

Click here to write your own.

Hurricane Charley Changed Punta Gorda 
Hurricane Charley slammed into Punta Gorda, Florida on Friday the 13th of August, 2004. My sailboat, AWOL, was in Burnt Store Marina south of town. …

The Darker Side of Jim Crow Florida 
Gus was one of the best men I ever knew. He worked for me on one of the soil testing drill rigs that I ran out of Tampa shortly after I graduated from …

Click here to write your own.

Much of the information in our website is available in a series of books for each of Florida's 8 geographical regions, along with a separate book covering all 8 regions titled Florida Backroads Travel. All books are available both in Kindle and paper back.

Click on the book cover for free previews of these books at Amazon.


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