Espanola, Florida and the Old Brick Road
by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)
Old Brick Road Near Espanola
Espanola is a little old crossroads community in Flagler County about 5 miles northwest of Bunnell on County Road 13.
When you get to Espanola, take a right on the paved road. After about 1/4 mile the asphalt paving ends and the road turns into brick. It is brick for the next 9 miles all the way north to County Road 204.
It's a rough ride best made on a 4 wheel drive vehicle or a solid pickup truck. It's only 9 feet wide, so if you meet another vehicle one of you will have to pull off the road for a bit.
This red brick is the original pavement of the Dixie Highway. Construction began in 1915 on the highway. The bricks were manufactured by the Graves Company of Birmingham, Alabama.
This segment was part of a road designed to connect Jacksonville with the area around Flagler Beach east of Bunnell.
The Dixie Highway was a system that connected Chicago to Miami. You can see vestiges of this system all over the eastern part of Florida in the name "Old Dixie Highway". In fact, this stretch of the "Old Brick Road" is still known by locals as Old Dixie Highway.
On its way south from Jacksonville, the road passed through some communities that are nearly ghost towns now, but whose names remain on the maps and roadway signs: Spuds up near Hastings and Dupont Center south of St. Augustine come to mind.
Timber, turpentine, potatoes and other vegetables were trucked to these little communities and transported by rail to markets up north. Old Dixie Highway paralleled the railroad for a large portion of its route.
Most of Old Dixie Highway was torn out and paved over with asphalt in the 1920s and 1930s. The old brick road that ran from Bunnell to Flagler Beach was torn out and repaved and became State Road 100. A lot of bricks from the old road were given to local settlers who used them for their own paving projects, fireplaces or patios.
Espanola's heyday was a long time ago. When the highway was new, the little town boasted of a hotel, restaurant, barber shop and post office. When what is now U.S. Highway 1 was completed from St. Augustine to Bunnell in 1926, people stopped using the Old Brick Road and Espanola faded away to its present condition of a few old homes and small farms.