KINGSLEY LAKE, FLORIDA
Camp Blanding and Strickland's Landing

By  Mike Miller Updated November 16, 2023

Kingsley Lake is about halfway between Jacksonville and Gainesville in Northeast Florida.  It is about six miles east of Starke.

Google Aerial Photograph Kingsley Lake 2019Google Aerial Photograph Kingsley Lake 2019

The 2,000 acre lake is about two miles across and is almost perfectly circular.  Many pilots flying over the lake named it Silver Dollar Lake because of this.

When I lived in Jacksonville and Gainesville in the 1960s, Kingsley Lake was famous for two things:  Strickland's Landing and Camp Blanding.

HISTORY OF STRICKLAND'S LANDING, KINGSLEY LAKE

The lake is named for Zephaniah Kingsley (1765-1843), a planter, slave trader, and merchant who owned a plantation east of the lake. 

It is apparently an ancient sinkhole, now spring fed, and 90 feet deep in the center.

Strickland's Landing was a large beach and enclosed swimming area with water slides and other fun attractions.  It occupied 20 acres on the north shore of the lake. 

Strickland's Landing was a great place for families from Gainesville, Starke, and Jacksonville to spend hot summer days.

Strickland's Landing on Kingsley LakeStrickland's Landing on Kingsley Lake

Woodrow Strickland and his family owned and operated the Landing from 1946 to 2002. 

Mr. Strickland was an avid Florida Gator football fan, usually wore a Gator ball cap, and had season tickets for many years.

Vintage Postcard Strickland's LandingVintage Postcards Strickland's Landing

It was a family oriented place.  No alcohol was allowed and people were expected to be on their best behavior.

Strickland's Landing was on the very north shore of Kingsley Lake adjacent to Camp Blanding.  You can see the enclosed swimming area on the vintage aerial photograph below.

Aerial Photo Kingsley Lake 1940sAerial Photo Kingsley Lake 1940s

When Woodrow Strickland died in 2002 at the age of 90, his heirs found themselves on the hook for a large income tax liability. 

This is why some people call the inheritance tax the "death tax."

Like many other families forced into this situation when the founder of the family business dies, they had to sell the land because they couldn't pay the taxes.

Slide and Happy Swimmers at Strickland's LandingWater Slide and Happy Swimmers at Strickland's Landing

Strickland's has been gone now since the family sold it.  Almost all of the privately owned shoreline around Kingsley Lake is developed now with single family homes. 

Almost every home has a dock, but there seems to be no beach access for the public.


Here is an interesting photo slide show about Kingsley Lake in the past.  It has been compiled by Douglas Combs and his friends and neighbors.

KINGSLEY LAKE PHOTO HISTORY


HISTORY OF CAMP BLANDING ON KINGSLEY LAKE

Almost half of the shoreline of Kingsley Lake - the eastern half - is occupied by Camp Blanding. 

This is the main training base for the Florida National Guard and units of the Florida Air National Guard.

Vintage Postcard Camp Blanding 1940sVintage Postcard Camp Blanding 1940s

It also the base of other reserve units and some active training facilities for the other armed forces of the United States, ROTC units, and more. 

The camp is 73,000 acres in area including much of Kingsley Lake itself.

Vintage Postcard Camp Blanding 1940sVintage Postcard Camp Blanding 1940s

During World War Two the United States Army used Camp Blanding as an active duty training center. 

In addition to training American infantry, the base held German prisoners of war and Japanese, German and Italian immigrants.

Camp Blanding Aerial 1941Camp Blanding Aerial 1941

From 1940 to 1945, more than 800,000 troops were trained here.  It was recognized during the war as the fourth largest city in Florida. 

It had 10,000 buildings, 125 miles of paved roads, and the largest hospital in the state.

Flavet Villages, University of FloridaFlavet Villages, University of Florida

After the war many of the buildings were sold and moved off base, including those that were repurposed as Flavet Villages, the married housing complexes at the University of Florida.

The affordable $28/month rent I paid while attending UF helped me get through school. 

Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park is open to the public. 

It has a history building with many exhibits and displays from World War Two, the Korean War, the Vietanam War, and Desert Storm.


THINGS TO DO NEAR KINGSLEY LAKE, FLORIDA

Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park
5629 State Road 16 West, Starke, FL 32091 | (904) 682-3196

Just a stone's throw from Kingsley Lake, the Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park offers a fascinating glimpse into military history. This site honors the soldiers who trained at Camp Blanding during WWII.

It showcases an impressive collection of military artifacts and vehicles. It’s our favorite spot for history buffs and anyone interested in learning more about Florida's role in the war effort.

Starke Golf and Country Club
15501 NE 14th Ave, Starke, FL 32091 | (904) 964-5441

Just about 6 miles from Kingsley Lake, the Starke Golf and Country Club offers a challenging yet enjoyable golfing experience.

With its well-maintained fairways and greens set against the backdrop of Florida’s natural landscape, it’s a great place for golfers looking to play a round in a scenic setting.

Kingsley Lake Baptist Church
6289 Mary Dot Ln, Starke, FL 32091 | (904) 533-2018

For those interested in local culture and community, the Kingsley Lake Baptist Church is a pillar of the area. This historic church offers a welcoming atmosphere and services that reflect the close-knit nature of Kingsley Lake residents.

It’s a wonderful place to meet locals and experience the warm hospitality that defines this community.

Etoniah Creek State Forest
390 Holloway Rd, Florahome, FL 32140 | (386) 329-2552

Explore the natural beauty of Florida at Etoniah Creek State Forest, with a nearby access from Kingsley Lake. This expansive state forest offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and a chance to immerse yourself in the serene beauty of untouched Florida wilderness.

This area is the only known site for the endangered plant Conradina etonia. It’s an ideal destination for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful outdoor adventure.


KINGSLEY LAKE FLORIDA INTERACTIVE GOOGLE MAP



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