Forgotten Florida (part one)
Citrus groves, sugar mills and packing plants once stood all around North Central Florida, offering work to Florida frontiersmen. These workers founded communities, built churches and opened schools for a good part of the late 1800s.
Railroad routes were built up around the citrus industry and post offices were erected. If you wanted to be a citrus farmer, this was the place to be. Unfortunately, two back to back freezes in the winter of 1894 and 1896 devastated area crops. The damage was so irreparable that most farmers left after the first freeze of 1894 and moved further south to the present-day Orlando area. The footprint they left on the area can still be seen, if you’re looking for it.
For the handful of cities in this area, the story is eerily similar. The freezes forced the citrus grove to close. The railroad was redirected and eventually the post office shut its doors. Some of these towns have no remains to speak of but many of them hold on proudly to a few dilapidated structures as time ticks on.
As I wander the back roads of rural Florida, I need only find a rusted tin roof, an old railroad track or an abandoned barn to find remnants of these old communities. I imagine a simpler, slower time. A small group of people trying to make it, and their eventual evacuation of the roots they fostered and the structures they built.
To see more photos of Forgotten Florida, check out my flickr photo set: