Do YOU like history?... well, this place is laced with so much history that we'll just have to whet your appetite a little more...
Cedar Key Florida In A Time Capsule
The Cedar Keys, with some evidence of native cultures dating back to the Deptford Period, about 500 B.C., was first mapped in 1542 by a Spanish cartographer and called "Las Islas Sabines", The Cedar Islands. But it was not until 1839, when a command under General Zachary Taylor established a military depot on Atsena Otie Key, that the area began to attract settlers.
The Town of Cedar Key was first established on the barrier island of Atsena Otie in the 1840's. Augustas Steele, who had purchased the island, was named postmaster of the new town. It was the same year that Florida became a state and Levy County was created and named for David Levy Yulee, the first U.S. Senator from the state.
Senator Yulee was responsible for bringing the first cross-Florida railroad from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key in 1861. The War Between the States interrupted progress and the Cedar Keys became a major location for blockade running and salt production. After the war, in 1869, the town was incorporated as "The City of Cedar Key".
Lumber was the primary industry, although fishing and cotton shipping were also important. Sawmills and pencil factories dominated the town in the 1880's. Shipping by rail and sea made Cedar Key an important port city until 1886, when the port of Tampa began to draw shipping away from Cedar Key. The town began to decline. About 2500 people lost their jobs when the mills closed and an 1896 hurricane and tidal surge devastated the area.
At the turn of the century fishing, sponge hooking, and oystering had become the major industries and remained so until the mid-twentieth century when the tourism industry began to grow as a result of interest in the historic community.
The Florida Site Master File lists 139 buildings and archaeological sites. These are on the National Register of Historic Places as an Historic District. These sites range from Indian middens and an aboriginal cemetery to residential and commercial structures, primarily from the last quarter of the nineteenth century. There is a significant concentration of "tabby", or poured shell reinforced concrete, buildings in the historic district as well as a number of historic sites ranging from a railroad trestle and dock to sawmills, pencil factories, and boat wrecks.
Because of its isolation and history of decline after the railroads opened to Tampa and Miami, the town has been "physically frozen in time" and offers a rare glimpse of the architectural development of 19th and early 20th century Florida coastal towns.
The Cedar Key Historical Society has prepared a "walking tour" guide and capsule history of 36 of the 139 historical site locations.
Today, tourism and the commercial clam industry are the number 1 economic means for the area.
Historical Development Time-Line
1542 - First map of islands published in Spain.
utilize the Cedar Key area as a sanctuary and hideaway from
other scoundrels and the law. Anchor located at the front of the Cedar Key Cemetary depicting bygone years.
1812-1816 - British agents secure the Indians in the area as allies.
1816-1818 - First Seminole War, British agents occupy Atsena Otie Key.
1835-1842 - "Second Seminole War". U.S. Army establishes a military depot on Atsena Otie Key (then known as Depot Key). A detention camp for Indians is established on Seahorse Key.
1839 - Congress authorizes construction of the "Cedar Key Lighthouse" in hopes to bring settlers to the area and help drive the Indians away. This is a portrait of the Cedar Key Lighthouse painted by R. L. Bansemer of Clearwater Florida.
1842 - First permanent settlement established on Atsena Otie Key.
1853 - Island of Cedar Key deeded to "Judge Augustus Steele".
1854 - The Cedar Key Lighthouse is finally built on Seahorse Key.
1855-1859 - The "Faber Pencil Mill" is established on Atsena Otie Key. This is followed by additional lumber-dependent factories and mills. Commercial fishing is started in the Cedar Key area. Construction begins on Railroad from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key. Present site of the Town of Cedar Key is laid out. Historical 1884 map shown here.
1859-1860 - The Island Hotel is built and still stands today as a 13 room hotel, restaurant and bar. Islanders say that if you're quiet enough you can sometimes see apparitions of guests from the past walking the hallways or visiting one of the suites.
1861 - David Yulee's "Florida Railroad" (from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key) is completed on March 1st. War Between the States begins and Florida secedes from the Union.
1862 - Union blockade of Cedar Key begins January 16th.
1865 - War Between the States ends.
1867 - "John Muir" the naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, walks a thousand-miles from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico and Cedar Key. Monument (shown to the rght ) placed on the island of Cedar Key honoring his great accomplishment.
1869 - 1879 - Prosperity returns to Cedar Key. Fishing Industry expands. New and bigger sawmills and pencil factories are located on Atsena Otie Key and Cedar Key. Shipbuilding becomes a major industry (located at Piney Point). Land sells for 50 cents an acre. Tourism becomes a major industry.
1880 - Henry Plant organized the Plant Investment Company and purchased the Florida Transit & Peninsular Railroad, one of the railroad lines which had absorbed David Yulee's (better known as the "Father of Florida's railroads") original line the Florida Railroad. The Florida Railroad now becomes known as the Atlantic Gulf and Western Indian Transit Company. Yellow Fever breaks out--Snake Key Quarantined.
1881 - Ice plant moves from Tampa to Cedar Key but is forced to close down due to insufficient fresh water.
1884 - Only Customs House in Florida, besides Key West, locates
in Cedar Key.
1886 - Mr. "Henry Plant" completes a railroad from the Atlantic Coast to Tampa and invests three million dollars to build and furnish The Tampa Bay Hotel.
1890 - Timber and seafood resources in the Cedar Key area are depleted.
1896 - On December 2nd, a hurricane preceded by a "tidal surge" hits the Cedar Key area and Atsena Otie Key. This is followed by a fire which destroys half of the Cedar Key business district. Within the next 10 to 15 years, the island of Atsena Otie Key is largely abandoned.
1900 - The existing railroad becomes known as the "Seaboard Airline Railway".
1909 - Oyster beds are exhausted. Fiber plant begins operations.
1923 -1924 - A paved road is constructed to Cedar Key.
1932 - The railroad is removed from Cedar Key to Archer. Bridge numbers 2, 3, and 4 are built.
1935 - Fire destroys the wooden dock (the Big Dock). A hurricane hits Cedar Key.
1939 - The "George T. Lewis" airstrip is constructed for military use.
1962 - "St. Claire Whitman Museum", opens. Tourism becomes major industry.
1965 - New concrete dock (the Big Dock) is built.
1966 - A new water system for the city is completed.
1974 - A new bridge is completed over the Number Four Channel.
1990 - City adopts Growth Management Plan.
1997 - "Charles R. Nelson Mortgage, Inc.", opens for business on Dock Street.
2000 - "EZ Properties", Real Estate opens for business on Dock Street.
2007 - Charles R. Nelson Mortgage, Inc. and EZ Properties move from Dock Street to new business location at 6950 SW State Road 24 in the Cedar Haven area of Cedar Key.
2009 - to be continued...
Come on... you can do it... visit us TODAY!
Site design & management by 4 Corners Publishing & Marketing
Cedar Key, Florida
All images and text created and copyrighted © 2003-2009
by 4 Corners Publishing & Marketing unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.