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CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA HISTORY

Central East Florida heritage and history is an intriguing blend of Old Florida and the high tech space age.  

The area began to attract settlers in the years immediately following the end of the Civil War in 1865.   Prior to that, it was pretty much a "no man's land".

The beginning of the space age was at Cape Canaveral in the early 1950's. The heritage is still being made with the space program in Brevard County and the racing legends at Daytona Speedway.This heritage is shared by all 5 counties in this region. Each county has its fair share of sites that are an important part of Florida heritage and history.

Early settlements were in Ormond, Titusville, Cocoa, EauGallie, Melbourne, Sebastian and Fort Pierce.  In those early days, life revolved around the Indian River Lagoon. Fishing provided a livelihood, and the communities were tied together by riverboat transportation in the years before the railroad.

Henry Flagler began extending his railroad south from St. Augustine, and one by one most of these little towns were served by the railroad and began to grow.

The area includes a great diversity of towns and attractions. It starts in the north with Daytona Beach and its International Speedway and world famous beaches.  It's center is anchored by Cape Kennedy. The Space Age exists contentedly among the old Florida towns of Titusville, Cocoa and Melbourne.

Other old villages were swallowed up when the government purchased the land for the huge Space Center on Merritt Island.  Only the old maps and history books will show Wisconsin Beach, Titusville Beach, Artesia, Audubon and other places that are now only names.

Central East Florida is a long narrow region that extends to St. Lucie Inlet in the south. There are only 5 counties in this area of Florida. Two of those counties - Brevard and Volusia - are long and skinny. Together they have more than 100 miles of beautiful sand beaches.

Indian River County and St. Lucie County are smaller, but with equally beautiful beaches. Okeechobee County is landlocked, but has other redeeming features, including Lake Okeechobee.

Central East Florida has several nicknames including Space Coast and Treasure Coast. It is also referred to as the eastern part of the I-4 Corridor. Interstate Highway I-4 runs from Daytona to Tampa. This stretch of land from the Atlantic to the Gulf is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States.

Much of the growth is because of Orlando and its major tourist attractions. Families who take in Walt Disney World and Universal Studios also like to spend some time at the beach.  Daytona Beach with its speedway and driveable beaches is also a magnet for vacationers. NASCAR fans from all over the country flock to town for major racing events like the Daytona 500.

Bike Week in Daytona draws thousands of two wheelers and they are pretty well behaved compared to the image many folks have of bikers.  Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island and its exhibits are also a major draw. Nearby Cocoa Beach has wonderful sand beaches and Ron Jon's Surf Shop.

The St. Johns River, one of the few north flowing rivers in the world, forms much of the western boundary of Central East Florida.  This magnificent river is an adventure in itself.  It is a fresh water river, and is the longest river in Florida. It is known as the "river of lakes", and is ecologically unique.   It forms the centerpiece of much of Central East Florida heritage and history.

Its course is actually a series of what were once salt water estuaries behind the ancient Florida barrier island. Excavation along the St. Johns River have turned up shark's teeth and other salt water souvenirs from ancient times.  In ancient Florida history, the ocean was mere yards away from the St. Johns. Now it is twenty or more miles west of the ocean at most locations.

The river starts in the freshwater marshes of Lake Helen Blazes near Melbourne. From there it flows north through Sanford and discharges in the Atlantic Ocean 20 miles east of Jacksonville.  Jacksonville sprawls along the banks of the St. Johns, and it's nickname is The River City. The river has played a major role in Florida history.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, had a winter home in Mandarin on the banks of the St. Johns River.  Many historians feel her novel helped start the Civil War.  Abraham Lincoln certainly believed so. 
Not until the river passes Jacksonville, do its waters become brackish.

The St. Johns River only falls about 30 feet in its 310 mile trip to the ocean. This means it is a lazy river, with slow moving water  and lots of meandering.  There are many fine little towns and parks along the long scenic course of the river.

The Indian River in Brevard County is also scenic and great for fishing and boating.  It is really a brackish estuary and is officially known as the Indian River Lagoon.  It is a large part of Central East Florida Heritage.

Central East Florida Heritage Sites

Here is a list of 141 Central East Florida heritage sites listed by county. The County Seat is also listed.  Here's a neat trick for you:  highlight any of the sites below, then right click and it will take you to the site's webpage on the internet.

BREVARD: Titusville

  1. Alma Clyde Field Library of Florida History
  2. American Police Museum and Hall of Fame
  3. Barton Avenue Residential District
  4. Brevard Museum of History and Science
  5. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
  6. Central Instrumentation Building
  7. Cocoa Main Street
  8. Cocoa Village Playhouse
  9. Community Chapel of Melbourne Beach
  10. Crawlerway
  11. Downtown Melbourne Association
  12. Grant General Store
  13. Headquarters Building
  14. Hotel Mims
  15. Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway
  16. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
  17. LaGrange Church and Cemetery
  18. Launch Complex 39
  19. Launch Complex 39, Pad A
  20. Launch Complex 39, Pad B
  21. Launch Control Center
  22. Liberty Bell Memorial Museum
  23. McLarty Treasure Museum
  24. Melbourne Beach Pier
  25. Missile Crawler Transporter Facilities
  26. Old Haulover Canal
  27. Operations and Checkout Building
  28. Porcher House
  29. Press Site--Clock and Flag Pole
  30. Rockledge Drive Residential District
  31. Sebastian Fishing Museum
  32. Sebastian Inlet State Park
  33. St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church
  34. St. Joseph's Catholic Church
  35. St. Luke's Episcopal Church and Cemetery
  36. Titusville Commercial District
  37. Valencia Subdivision Residential District
  38. Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum
  39. Vehicle Assembly Building, High Bay and Low Bay

INDIAN RIVER: Vero Beach

  1. City Hall - City of Sebastian Offices
  2. Driftwood Resort
  3. Indian River Citrus Museum Heritage Center
  4. Indian River County Courthouse
  5. Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway
  6. Laura Riding Jackson Home Preservation Foundation
  7. Maher Building
  8. Main Street Vero Beach
  9. Marion Fell Library
  10. McKee Botanical Garden
  11. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge
  12. Pueblo Arcade
  13. Royal Park Arcade
  14. Spanish Fleet Survivors & Salvors Camp Site
  15. Vero Beach Railroad Station
  16. Vero Beach Woman's Club

OKEECHOBEE: Okeechobee

  1. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
  2. Okeechobee Battlefield

ST. LUCIE: Fort Pierce

  1. Arcade Building
  2. Cresthaven
  3. Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
  4. Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts
  5. Fort Pierce Site
  6. Ft. Pierce Main Street, Inc.
  7. Heathcote Botanical Gardens
  8. Moores Creek Bridge
  9. Old Fort Pierce City Hall
  10. St. Lucie County Historical Museum
  11. St. Lucie Village Historic District
  12. UDT Seal Museum
  13. Urca de Lima

VOLUSIA: Deland

  1. African American Museum of the Arts
  2. All Saints Episcopal Church
  3. Amos Kling House
  4. Bethune-Cookman College Historic District
  5. Black Heritage Museum
  6. Blue Spring State Park
  7. Bulow Creek State Park
  8. Canaveral National Seashore
  9. City Island
  10. Connor Library History Museum
  11. Coronado Historic District
  12. Cypress Street Elementary School
  13. Daytona Beach Bandshell
  14. Daytona Beach Partnership
  15. Daytona Beach Surfside Historic District
  16. DeBary Hall Historic Site
  17. DeLand Hall
  18. DeLand Memorial Hospital Museums
  19. DeLand Naval Air Station Museum
  20. DeLeon Springs State Park
  21. Dickinson Memorial Library and Park
  22. Downtown DeLand Historic District
  23. Dunlawton Ave Historic District
  24. El Pino Parque Historic District
  25. Fred Dana Marsh Museum
  26. Gamble Place Historic District
  27. Grace Episcopal Church and Guild Hall
  28. Halifax Drive Historic District
  29. Halifax Historical Museum
  30. Holly Hill Municipal Building
  31. Hontoon Island State Park
  32. Howard Thurman House
  33. Jackie Robinson Ball Park
  34. Lake Helen Historic District
  35. Lippincott Mansion
  36. Main Street DeLand Association
  37. Mary McLeod Bethune Home
  38. Moulton Wells House
  39. Museum of Arts and Sciences and Center for Florida History
  40. New Smyrna Beach Historic District
  41. New Smyrna Museum of History
  42. New Smyrna Sugar Mill Ruins
  43. Nocoroco
  44. Orange City Town Hall
  45. Ormond Beach Community Enrichment Center
  46. Ormond Beach Main Street, Inc.
  47. Ormond Beach Woman's Club
  48. Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts
  49. Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station
  50. Port Orange F.E.C. Railway Freight Station
  51. Rogers House
  52. Ross Hammock Site
  53. S. Cornelia Young Memorial Library
  54. S.H. Kress and Co. Building
  55. Seabreeze Historic District
  56. Seabreeze United Church
  57. Seminole Rest
  58. South Beach Street Historic District
  59. South Peninsula Historic District
  60. Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Historic District
  61. Southwest Daytona Beach Black Heritage District
  62. Spruce Creek Mound Complex
  63. Stetson University Campus Historic District
  64. Sugarmill Botanical Gardens
  65. Thursby House
  66. Tomoka State Park
  67. Turtle Mound
  68. U.S. Post Office
  69. West DeLand Residential District
  70. White Hall - Bethune-Cookman College
  71. Woman's Club of New Smyrna

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