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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Blog

I am currently posting to a new blog you can find all of my new posts here - www.floridatrailblazer.wordpress.com  I will occasionally update this one but the majority of my posts will be on that site.

You can still keep up with my videos weekly at www.youtube.com/fltrailblazer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Old Railroad Trestle at Rice Creek



Railroad Trestle
On the north end of Rice Creek Conservation Area by Hwy 100 I found this old railroad trestle. I believe this was part of a railroad line that was formerly run by The Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad Company in the late 1800's. 

Today it is abandoned and is actually utilized as part of The Florida Trail out of Rice Creek Conservation Area. If you continue following this railroad grade it eventually leads into the Palatka Lake Butler State Trail.

I explored around the trestle and down by the creek, it is such a beautiful place. I couldn't help but envision the past when the trains crossed the creek here over 100 years ago.

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Rice Creek


Railroad Trestle

On The Trestle


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hike to Old Farm Silo and More in H‏álpata Tastanaki Preserve


Trailhead
On this adventure I hiked out to an old silo deep in Hálpata Tastanaki Preserve. Initially that was the plan but on the way there I came across an old fish hatchery. It has clearly been abandoned for sometime and I found some paperwork from 1991 laying on the floor indicating that they raised Triploid Grass Carp here. That particular carp was genetically altered so it could not reproduce. It is an asian exotic imported because it eats aquatic plants. They are released to control aquatic plants in lakes and rivers.

Abandoned Fish Hatchery
After exploring around at the hatchery I continued on towards the silo. I remember seeing it towering above the trees on the side of the forest road I was walking down to get to it. I had to find a way back there it appeared to be very old. Most of the surrounding area is overgrown so I had to bushwhack my way back to it.

As I approached the silo I passed by an old cattle feeder, this area was part of a farm or ranch at one time I think. The silo had panels missing at the bottom so I was able to go inside and check it out. That was a really neat experience I've never been inside a farm silo much less find an abandoned one in the woods. You could still see the shaft with a ladder inside but I did not attempt to climb it as it isn't very safe to do so. I spent a good amount of time out here imagining what it must have been like all those years ago. I can't say for sure but I think the silo could be dated somewhere between 1930's-1950's but as I said I really don't know. I am hoping to learn more about this area that is for sure.

Old Farm Silo
I decided to head back towards the trailhead but found another interesting area that appeared to be an old cattle processing site. I could see fence posts piled up and even some bricks and concrete blocks. I also saw a cattle ramp and a piece of farm old farm equipment.

As I returned to the trailhead I thought how nice it was to discover these things while enjoying this scenic wilderness. If you look hard enough you can discover these things and so much more at Hálpata Tastanaki Preserve.

My Videos
Abandoned Fish Hatchery
Old Farm Silo
Cattle Processing Site
Old Farm Equipment
Resources
Preserve Website



Inside the Silo


Looking up into the Shaft

Piece of Machinery


Old Cattle Feeder

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Abandoned Plane Crash Site in The Wilderness

Plane Crash Wreckage
This aircraft vanished in April of 2014 when the pilot, Theodore Weiss was last seen taking off from Dunnellon Airport. He never arrived at his destination in Zephyrhills. Officials searched for the plane for months for in the Withlacoochee State Forest where they thought it had crashed. It was never found until several months later by a hiker in a preserve.

I went to the area actually looking for some other sites to check out when I came across the plane wreckage that had been found. As I entered the site I got an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Sure it was exciting finding it but at the same time it is also one of the most unfortunate discoveries I've had on the trails. I've always envisioned finding an abandoned plane on an adventure but never under these circumstances.

I hope that the fact that it was discovered helps to put some closure on this. I know that at least he passed away doing what he loved to do. I read that he had a big passion for flying these planes. He seemed to have been a very experienced pilot as well. Which leads me to wonder how he went down and we may never know.

Theodore Weiss, 74, of Zephyrhills
I found this in an article (In an interview Weiss’ friend, Ted Coberly of Zephyrhills, said Weiss was a retired metal worker from around Rochester, N.Y., where he still has family. Coberly, Weiss’ friend, said he had an outgoing personality and that the men shared a passion for experimental aircraft. “He was a real nice guy, competent pilot and everything,” Coberly said. “We were supposed to go flying together (when Weiss went missing). We had a lot in common, same airplane and everything.”)

I left the site as it was and took some photos and videos which you can see below. From everything I have read on this man he seemed like a good person and that he will be missed by many. I made this post to show my respects and perhaps even a sort of memorial for him. I know he is at peace and flying high somewhere in a much better place now.

Plane Wreckage
Cockpit
My Videos
Plane Crash Wreckage
Abandoned Plane Crash Wreckage

Resources
News Story

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Exploring the Trails at Ichetucknee Springs State Park


Exploring An Old Phosphate Mine
When you think of Ichetucknee Springs State Park you may envision the beautiful springs there. But at the North Entrance of the park there are some neat historical trails you can explore. There are three different hiking trails. Blue Hole Trail: A half-mile walk through the Ichetucknee forest and cypress flood plain leads to Blue Hole Spring, the largest spring in the park. Trestle Point Trail: This shaded path winds along the crystal clear waters of the Ichetucknee River. The self-guided trail will take you back in time to the early 1900s, when phosphate ore was mined in the area. Pine Ridge Trail: A frequently overlooked area of the park is the majestic sandhill, with its towering longleaf pine and wide open vistas. View the natural diversity of this unique and vanishing ecosystem.

I particularly enjoyed the Trestle Point trail because of it's history. In the early 1900's they mined for phosphate in this area and you can still see evidence from that period as you walk along the old tram roads which are now part of the nature trail. I found large pits and even an old dragline shovel along the trail. I followed the trails towards the river and found the site where a small trestle used to cross. The phosphate would be hauled out of the mines across the river over the trestle. Here is some history I found on the area from the park website"Phosphate mining in the park covered two major periods. Exploration mining began prior to the turn of the 20th century, consisting of mule and wheelbarrow-assisted excavation in nearby sinkholes and depressions. Later, the mine used boilers, pumps and steam shovels for ore extraction. A series of narrow-gauge railroads were installed to cart the ore out to local railroad lines. This early phase of mining was never as intrusive as our present-day methods, but many pits were left in the park and are still present today, especially around the Head Spring area. Another relic of the phosphate era is the series of 'tram beds' crisscrossing the park, left behind from the railroad conveyances."

If you plan on visiting the springs at the North entrance don't forget to check out these beautiful and historical trails!

Tram Road

Trestle Point (Where the Trestle Was)

Trails by the Mines

Old Dragline Shovel
My Videos
Old Dragline Bucket
Old Phosphate Mines
Old Tram Road
Trestle Point

Resources
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Park History



Friday, October 24, 2014

Discovering Oriole Mines in Withlacoochee State Forest


Exploring Oriole Mines
In the Withlacoochee State Forest is the site of an old town called "Oriole". It was a small town with a population of around 100 people or so that was established in the early 1880's. The town only lasted until the late 1800's though. I have been exploring where the old town used to be and the surrounding areas. Some evidence can still be found if you look hard enough.

On a recent hike out there I found what looks to be an old mine way back in the woods. I managed to find an old tram road where you can see the areas dug up. These are known as the Oriole Mines and were managed by the Oriole Mining Company. I believe they would mine phosphate back here up until around 1915. Initially I set out not knowing what I would find. Little did I know I would discover yet another connection to history on this old town.

My Videos
Exploring Oriole Mine
Oriole Mines

Resources
Oriole Ghost Town
Withlacoochee State Forest
Hernando County History

Oriole Mine

Looking Down Into Oriole Mines

Oriole Mine



Monday, September 15, 2014

Abandoned Railroad Trestle Over The Steinhatchee River



Abandoned Railroad Trestle
Florida has many abandoned railway tracks in the Suwannee River Valley. In the early 1900s freight and passenger steamships were replaced by trains that carried crops and timber and also made passenger stops in small towns such as Chiefland, Cross City, and Trenton. The Nature Coast Trail follows this historic route which is part of the old railroad. 
I wanted to see what remains I could find from this railway. So I followed a trail back to the Steinhatchee River north of Cross City. It is known as the Steinhatchee Conservation Area. This trail lead me to an abandoned railroad trestle dating back to the early 1900's. I traced the railroad line here on maps and it eventually connects into the Nature Coast Trail.
Abandoned Railroad Trestle Over Steinhatchee River

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Steinhatchee River