Fort Gadsden: Forgotten “Negro Fort” history hidden in Apalachicola National Forest

We decided to stop by Fort Gadsden while returning back from our trip to St George Island. Fort Gadsden is located in the Apalachicola National Forest. This fort is quite deep in the forest.

If you google search for places to visit in the Florida panhandle, you would probably not get Fort Gadsden listed. At least, we did not. We got to learn about Fort Gadsden in one of our travel guide books published by travel journalists. It is effortless to miss the road to this fort. We found a brown sign that said, Fort Gadsden. We just followed it. Deep in the forest, the road was unpaved.
On top of that, it was a rainy day. My husband doubted if our sedan would be able to drive on all the thick dirt. We kept on moving, and nothing to be seen. There was no service on our cell phones because we were so deep in the forest.
The white truck driving in the opposite direction was the only vehicle on the dirt road. We stopped our car and asked the man about how far the fort was. He was a hunter. He informed us that it was only about a mile. He said that our car would be able to handle the dirt road.

Hopeful enough, we decided to move further. We thought we almost reached the fort, but in vain. We noticed the signs that warned hunters to keep their weapons away from the residences there. Well, we only saw a couple of houses. At a point, I thought to stop and ask the resident. We saw the man in one of the houses who was doing dishes. We stopped our car but in a dilemma whether to proceed and ask him. My husband thought it was not safe to get out of the car as he could have firearms. We kept on following other signs with anxiety. We reached the park entrance, but the gate was closed. After driving all the bumpy roads, my husband was in huge disappointment and not ready to believe that the empty ground that we were seeing was a fort Gadsden. He didn’t want to give up yet. But, I pulled him away because the big “closed” sign at the shut gate said it all.

Fort Gadsden

Although Fort Gadsden was closed, here is what we know about this hidden historic landmark.


The fort is located on the eastern bank of the Apalachicola River, accessed by Highway 65. In 1812, British Royal Marine built the fort on recruiting Seminole Indians and escaped black slaves allies to fight against America. The fort was called British post. However, the British left the fort around 1815. The fort, now, was occupied by 300 escaped slaves and 30 Seminole and Choctaw Indians. Thus, the fort was known as the Negro Fort. The Negro Fort was a symbol of rebel and freedom from slavery. Seminole women, children, black families in Florida took refuge in the fort.


However, the U.S. Navy attacked the Negro Fort and left no trace. The American soldiers raided the surrounding settlements, burnt everything, and returned black families to the white slaveholders. The Indians were sentenced to death. The Americans continued the raid along the bank of the Apalachicola River for the next few years. James Gadsden, in 1818, built Fort Gadsden on the site where old Negro Fort was. The fort, a home, a place to fight for freedom for the black community was destroyed.

Mount Dora, Florida Travel Guide

If you ever are travelling to Orlando, or Tampa, don’t forget to spend your day or two at Mount Dora. Mount Dora is a small town that will amaze you in many different ways. The town is located 92 miles north from Tampa. It is approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes drive from Tampa. Following are few things to see in Mount Dora.

Lake Dora

Lake Dora is not far from the downtown. Spend your morning or afternoon near the lake Dora. You can also take your picnic. Enjoy the sunset. Boat tours and beautiful nature trails are available on site.

Palm Island Park

If you are looking to spend your time watching birds and other animals such as alligators and raccoons, Palm Island Park is the place to stop by. The park has beautiful boardwalk on the lake Dora. You can also see Mount Dora Light House from the boardwalk.

Mount Dora Light House

Mount Dora Light house is located in the Port of Mount Dora. The lighthouse is one of only 3 freshwater lighthouses in
the state of Florida. It is about 35 feet tall. It was opened since 1988 and there is no access inside.Mount Dora Downtown: Downtown Mount Dora is a beautiful destination for a getaway in Central Florida. This vibrant downtown will surprise you with beautiful antique shops, museums, restaurants, hotels, and shopping stores. The downtown is not far from Lake Dora. Enjoy looking at the beautiful murals and old buildings in the downtown.

Mount Dora Downtown

Downtown Mount Dora is a beautiful destination for a getaway in Central Florida. The vibrant downtown has antique shops, museums, restaurants, hotels other shopping stores. Stroll around the downtown to look at murals, old buildings, beautiful arts that exist in the corner of the downtown. Downtown is not far from lake Dora.

The Donelly’s House

Don’t miss out on visiting Mr. Donelly’s house. John. Donelly’s house who is one of the founders of the local yacht club.
He is also Mount dora’s first mayor in 1910. This house is owned by mount dora lodge now.He built this house as a gift to his wife.
It is listed in national register of the historic places.

Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce

The first place to visit to get information about Mount Dora is the chamber of commerce. Located in the heart of Mount Dora downtown, the visitors center has staffs dedicated to assist you in making your visit easier. Stop by the visitors center to grab maps and other Mount Dora travel guides.

Saint Augustine must visits!

Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., located in the northeast coast of the Florida. The beautiful city of St. Augustine is famous for it’s beautiful beaches, and Spanish architecture. The city was regarded as the capital city of Florida.

Learn more about the city by visiting following historic and natural landmarks. Click on the listed links to learn more about these attractions.

Lightner Museum

The museum is located in the downtown Saint Augustine inside the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Enjoy the museum and the beautiful 19th century era building. Learn more about the museum here

Flagler College

Plan to visit Flagler College when you visit Saint Augustine downtown. Flagler college’s beautiful wall and ceiling arts will keep your jaws wide. Click here to learn more!

Castillo de San Marcos

The Castillo de San Marcos is masonry fort located on the shore of Matanzas Bay. The fort is oldest and in the western area of the bay. Designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza, when Florida was part of the Spanish empire. Learn more about the fort by clicking here

Alligator Farm

Don’t miss on visiting the Alligator Farm if you are interested in learning about alligators, and other few bird species. Watch park rangers feed the alligators. Also, if you are looking to be little adventurous, try their zip line over zoo. For more information click here

Villa Zoyrada Museum

It’s worth to visit Villa Zoyrada if you are interested to learn about Egyptian ancient history or American. The museum has the world’s oldest carpet made out of cat fur. The carpet was found in the bank of Nile river in Egypt. You are not allowed to take photos inside the museum. Enjoy learning peculiar history. Click here for more!

Riley’s Believe it or not

It is clear that this place has unbelievable collection of items from ancient and modern times that will keep you shocked. The museum is kids friendly. From wax replica of the world’s tallest man to the world’s smallest production car, the museum has tons of oddities to offer you. For more information click here

A 7 days road trip in Arizona: Phoenix-Page-Phoenix

Day 1:

Desert Botanical Garden

South Mountain Park

drive towards Sedona to your hotel.

Day 2:

Amitabh Stupa

Cathedral Rock

Chapel of holy Cross

stay in Sedona that night too.

Day 3:

Visit Montezuma Castle

Tuzigoot National monument history

Red rock State Park

Drive to spend a night at Flagstaff

Day 4:

Drive along Kendrick Mountain Wilderness on the way to Grand Canyon National Park. allot not more than 45 mins- 1 hour.

Drive almost one and half hour to reach to Grand Canyon National Park (towards the South rim which is more popular entry way)

make sure you allocate at least 3 hours drive to Page to reach to your hotel.

Day 5:

Visit Horseshoe Bend

Visit Glen Canyon dam .

stay at Page.

Day 6:

Visit Antelope Canyon (has an array of activities available, can spend the whole day)

Stay at page

Day 7:

Return to phoenix

Make a quick stop at Navajo Bridge (Discover an intriguing history on how a single bridge contributed to the socioeconomic upliftment of Arizona)

Note: All the planned visits can be easily covered in the itinerary as long as you can hit the road late by 8 am every morning.

 

Florida Panhandle Travel

Florida panhandle has a variety to offer you from beaches to gardens, antiques, sinkholes, canopy roads and blue springs. We planned a 7-day backroads trip from Largo. Our first stop was Tallahassee itself using route 580. It took approximately 5 hours. However, this route has beautiful sceneries to offer instead of I-75. We stopped at Cedar Key for 2 hours on our way. Cedar Key is a little historic town, suitable for a getaway.

We stayed overnight at a little cottage in Goat House Farm near Lake Talquin in Tallahassee.

Lake Talquin State Park

On the other side of the cottage exists Lake Talquin State Park. If you are looking for a place to sit down, gaze at the lake and meditate, you should choose this state park. The park had only a few visitors. It’s the right place for fishing, walking trails and launching your private rentals

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs

Only 35 minutes away is Wakulla Springs. It is the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring. A lot of children played in the less deep area of the spring. The spring provides cruise services to the visitors who are willing to enjoy the boat tours. 

Wakulla springs also have trails for the hiking in the woods. The forest has self-guided trails as well. If you are looking to stay closer to the springs, Wakulla offers lodge on its own premises. The beautiful Spanish style building has a cafeteria and gift shop in the same building.

The Forgotten Coast– Apalachicola, Saint George Island

Apalachicola– You did not really travel panhandle if you missed the forgotten Coast. Apalachicola, the oyster capital of the world, has sweetest oysters to offer you. The maritime culture of this town provides fresh seafood and several areas for fishing. This little town does not have plenty of parking spaces. While you walk the city, definitely visit the visitors centre. If you can, find the place for Tupelo honey. Spend time tasting chocolates in the chocolate factory and stroll the town’s various souvenir stores.

Saint George Island-Only 7min drive from Apalachicola is a connecting place called Eastpoint. Do not miss to visit Saint George Island, which is only 15minutes drive.   Visit historic Saint George Lighthouse. Stop at the museum in the lighthouse before you start climbing the stairs of the lighthouse. Once you reach the top, enjoy the view of the beautiful Apalachicola Bay. Saint George Island has beautiful beaches to offer you. 

The beach can be a bit crowded. However, if you want quiet private beach time of your own, visit Saint George Island State Park which is about 15 mins drive from the lighthouse. On your way to the state park, enjoy watching the colourful buildings of the island.

Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge

About 45 minutes south from Wakulla Springs exists a hidden treasure of Florida Panhandle. Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge connects with the beautiful Apalachee Bay.The exotic marshlands of the refuge on a sunny day is a piece of art by nature to enjoy. 

If you plan to fish, the sanctuary offers varieties of spots to allow your fisherman spirit to come alive. The southernmost point of the refuge consists of historic Saint Marks Lighthouse that you should not miss out. It is the second oldest light station in Florida.

Torreya State Park, Florida Caverns State Park, Falling Waters State Park

North to Tallahassee lies beautiful state parks. If you are looking to experience the Florida mountains view, falling waters, lakes and hike, state parks won’t go wrong. Located in Bristol, Torreya State Park is a natural landmark and historic cite. The state park named after Florida nutmeg tree (Torreya), the tree only found in California, Florida and Japan, stands next to the Apalachicola River. The park is famous for Gregory house (plantation house). The state park offers plenty of beautiful area for hiking. We hiked down to the Apalachicola river from the Gregory house.

Falling waters state park offers you a beautiful 70-foot tall waterfall. The rainy season is the best time to visit the park. The surface water flows to the stream and cascades before disappearing into a cave when the water level is high. The turtle lake is a good icing on the cake in the park. There are several picnic tables available near the lake.

Panama City

Stroll at the Panama city beach market before you get ready to enjoy the sands of the beach itself. Enjoy the shops before the pier park entrance. The Panama city beach pier park charges you a small fee to let you enter the large fishing pier. As you return, enjoy coffee, soft and hard drinks in the beautiful cottage shops near the beach.

Clearwater to Keywest: a four day roadtrip

A 3-4 day road trip from Clearwater to Keywest can give you a wholesome different experience of a roadtrip if it is done in a planned manner.

Day 1:

Start driving at 7:00 am. Take I-275 and then connect to I-75 to get to fort Myers. Visit Edison and ford winter Estates. Spend at least two hours there as it has a lot to offer.

From there drive to Naples for about 1 hour 15 minutes to explore Cork screw swamp Sanctuary, a very pristine and balmy nature walk on the boardwalk trail with various exotic birds to watch along the way. having a binoculars is an advantage.

End your day with a stay at Marathon. various availability of motels within your budgets.

note: you can make a stop at Ringling museum and allocate at least about 3 hours for it before you head straight to Fort Myers if you can hit off the road little early at around 7:30 in the morning.

Day 2:

Enjoy the Marathon beach.

Also, you can explore few of the below activities of your interest as time permits before you can head to key west to spend a night there.

  1. A Deep Blue Dive Center
  2. Brutus Seafood Market & Eatery
  3. Catch ‘Em All
  4. Cocos Boat Rentals
  5. Crane Point Museum, Nature Center and Historic Site
  6. Curry Hammock State Park
  7. Dolphin Research Center
  8. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
  9. Florida Keys Kiteboarding

Day 3:

The most exciting day of the trip. You can cover all of the following attractions in one day.

  • Hemmingway House
  • Fort Zachary Taylor state Park
  • CGC Ingham Museum
  • Mallory Square
  • Southernmost point buoy

Day 4:

  • Stop at Everglades National Park and try out activities such as bike ride in Shark valley, boat tour, kayaking/canoeing, hiking trails.
  • Drive back to Clearwater.

Central Florida to Florida Panhandle

Day 1: Start driving at 8 am from Tampa to Tallahassee. Take route 589 and US 19 to drive backroads. Reach Cedar Key by 12:00 noon. Spent 2 hours in Cedar Key. Get back to the route to Tallahassee. Reach Goat house farm by 6pm at late.

Day 2: Hit the road at 8:00 am. Drive to the Wakulla Springs. Spend 3 hours in Wakulla springs. From there drive to St Marks light house. Spend rest of the day. Return to Tallahassee

Day 3: Start driving at 8:00 am to Apalachicola. Go to Saint George Island Lighthouse and State Park. Stay over night in Apalachicola.

Day 4: Drive to Chipley FL, see Florida Caverns State Park and Falling waters state park. Drive back to Apalachicola.

Day 5: Drive to Panama City using route—-. Stay in Panama City.

Day 6: Drive to Pensacola FL—-route—. Stay for 3 hours

Day 7: Return Back

Treasures of Central Florida

The most popular attraction in Central Florida is Disney World. Visited by people worldwide, Disney remains on the top of the chart for so many people and has shadowed other exotic destinations. If you look closely, the central part of this state has a lot to offer you from springs, manatees and mermaids to rolling hills and treasure coast. This article will list only a few places that you must visit if you enjoy nature.

Before establishing Disney World, Weeki Wachee Springs was one of the most visited places due to the mermaid performances. However, the popularity of Disney world affected Weeki Wachee’s businesses.

Crystal River Archeological State Park

Standing at the bank Crystal river, the mounds lead you to imagine the life of ancient Indians.  The mounds are the piles of shells used by the Calusa Indians. The Calusa chiefs built important temples, conducted essential ceremonies on the top of the mound. Take the stairs to the top of the mound, and enjoy the breeze coming from the beautiful Crystal River.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Home for manatees, the Homosassa springs lets you experience the wildlife and nature closely. Take a boat tour from the entrance to the wildlife rehabilitation.  

The other attraction in the springs is an underwater observatory that allows you to watch Manatees and thousands of fishes and mullet. Manatees mainly visit Homosassa springs during winter. They visit springs seeking the warm 72 F water. The park volunteers run the informative show while they feed Manatees foods such as carrots.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and Weeki Wachee preserve

Famous for mermaids, Weeki Wache springs hold the history of one of the most iconic springs. Enjoy the boat tours, swim in the Buccaneer bay, and hike in nature. Do you like freshwater adventures? Weeki Wachee springs allow you to kayak and launch your private rentals.

Located in Spring Hill, Weeki Wachee preserve is situated in the conservation land. It extends up to the Crystal river buffer preserve. The preserve has an uneven road, easy to drive. However, the gate is only open on the second and fourth Saturday of a month. You can still hike and take your bike when the gates are closed. The area has only one picnic table located near the beautiful lake. 

There are several man-made lakes in the area that formed after the land mining operations. This habitat is the largest remaining black bear habitat in along the peninsular gulf coast. 

Pine Island

Embraced by the beautiful marshlands and palm trees, pine island is one of Florida’s exotic hidden treasures. As you drive the island, you enjoy the beautiful view of the palm trees forest. The beach houses are seen when you get closer to the Hernando county beach. Enjoy the forest scenery on the horizon while you walk on the white sands of the beach.

Rainbow Springs State Park

The crystal clear river of rainbow springs attracts many visitors. The constant 72f water in the spring is ideal for the children and families to swim, kayak and paddle. It will be less crowdy as you paddle away from the bank of the spring. Immerse in the beauty of nature, watch for birds and alligators. Rainbow springs state park has more to offer you. As you stroll around the park, experience fantastic butterfly garden. Smell the blooming jasmine flowers floating all the way from the top of the tree to its root. 

Silver Springs State Park

 

Silver springs is another beautiful state park with one of the largest springs in the USA.    The boat tours at the state park will sail you to the lap of exotic trees, homes of birds and alligators. 

Experience underwater life by viewing from the glass bottom boats take you the underwater.

Get to learn the park deeper by bringing your own private rentals in the spring. Educate yourself about the spring at the visitors center that offers you museum. 

South Florida Must Visit

We usually like to visit nature rather than cities. South florida is mostly popular for big city such as Miami. Miami attracts thousands of tourists to its beaches, latin and carribean cultural attractions and big downtown. About 3 hours west to Miami is a beautiful treasure of Florida, the Florida Keys.

Florida Keys

Famous for beaches, sunsets and water adventure, the Florida keys consists of several small islands connected by highway 1. The furthermost point of the keys is a beautiful small town, Key West. Several tourists visit this small town every year to experience the tropical climate, and the southern culture. The town has very less free park spots. Thus, it is recommended to find paid public parking spaces. While you walk through the town, enjoy little souvenir shops, coffee shops, bookstores, and shopping centers. You will notice stray chickens every where in the keys which is quite intriguing. The popular stops in the Key west are Earnest Hemingway house, the southernmost point, shipwreck museums, ship museum, mallory square and so much more. However, if you are looking to experience beach life, grab your swim suits, sandals and enjoy dipping your feet in the beautiful sands at Bahia Honda State Park. Keys is fully surrounded by the water, thus, has beaches every where.

Everglades national park

Everglades national park is the America’s largest subtropical wilderness park in the United States. This is a wetland of international importance and a part of world heritage site. Some of the most famous areas to visit in the Everglades are the Shark Valley. Rent a bicycle and enjoy riding the shark valley loop. Shark valley has 65 foot tall observation tower. Enjoy looking at the vast never-ending marsh lands of everglades from the top. Speed boat tours are another famous activities to do in the rivers of Everglades. Enjoy alligators and other other exotic birds and animals.

USA’s smallest USPS post office- Ochopee Post Office

The I-75 route may be the fastest, however, scenic backroad, the Tamiami trail has a lot to offer. Spare your 5 minutes to visit the USA’s smallest USPS post office located in the scenic Tamiami trail. USPS post office. Read about the history of the place in the little board posted in the site.

Fort Myers

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Fort Myers is one of the most popular places in Florida for its beautiful beaches. If you are interested in automobiles, visit Edison Ford Winter Estates. Located in Fort Myers, the estates is a museum that consists of the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The beautiful 21 acre botanical garden remains next to the stunning Caloosahatchee River. Join the guided tour, or have a self-guided tour. The home dates back 1885, when Thomas Edison purchased the property to build a vacation home in Fort Myers. Apart from history homes, you can also take a visit to the well preserved laboratory from ages ago.

Naples

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

If you are stopping Naples for 2-3 hours and looking for a place to relax, However, put Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in your GPS. The park has 2.5 mile long boardwalk over the swamp. The boardwalk takes you to through wet prairie, marshlands, bald cypress forests, and many other vegetations. Take your binoculars with you to watch alligators, white-tailed deers, otters and turtles more closely.

Sarasota

The Ringling

Wherever you go in Florida, beaches are the most popular attractions. However, Sarasota has a famous museum to offer you. Don’t miss out John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. You could spend a whole day if you are interested in learning about beautiful ancient arts. The Ringling has varieties of wonderful bayfront gardens that are instagram worthy. On top of that, do not miss out visiting Ca’ Da’ Zan’, the home of the circus king and his wife. Another must visit museum in the Ringling campus is Circus campus. You can walk the write, take pictures with faux tiger, observe and study about the beautiful parade wagons, cannons used during circus to shot performers in the air, and their costumes. Do not miss out on visiting miniature museum. The slideshow can give you idea of miniature museum.

Myakka River State Park

Visit Myakka River State Park if you plan to camp, hike, do boat tours, picnic, bike ride in Sarasota. Myakka River State Park is the oldest state park of Florida and offers wide variety of vegetations and landscapes. Travel to this state park mid of May to experience between yellow wild flowers. Deers lurk and play in the wild flowers field. There are two swallow lakes- Upper Myakka lake and Lower Myakka Lake. You can take your own canoe, rent canoe or take a boat tours. The alligators and exotic birds can be easily spotted near the lake. Enjoy the sunset, and you might even want to camp there. However, make reservations via park’s website beforehand.