Thursday, November 12, 2015

Southern Columbia County

I grew up in southern Columbia County, in the area known as Columbia City (although the term ‘city’ is clearly a misnomer). I lived on five acres at the very end of a dirt road. The nearest kid my age was a mile away, and if we needed groceries it was a 30 minute drive. As a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of rural, desolate, backwoods north Florida. If you’d told teenage me that adult me would willingly move back to north Florida and be enjoying blogging about rural, desolate, backwoods north Florida, teenage me would have laughed in your face. However, as adult me has lived in such non-desolate locations as St. Petersburg, Russia (pop. 5 million), San Diego, CA (pop. 1.4 million), Daegu, South Korea (pop. 2.5 million), Seoul, South Korea (pop. 10 million), and Orlando, FL (pop. 2 million), living in rural north Florida in a small town with a population of 5,500 is a welcome relief. I have once again been living in north Florida for the past year and a half, and I love it. I’ve taken several drives through Columbia County to look at my old haunts and (of course) take some photos. Given my close proximity to Columbia County (I can make it there in about five minutes or so by car), I expect to share quite a few images from that county with you. Here are some of the more recent ones I’ve taken of the area around various spots in southern Columbia County, including in Columbia "city."

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Along Hwy 47 between Fort White and Columbia City

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The Tube Tree at Lowe's Tubeland
In the spring and summer when the weather is hot, this is far from a desolate location, as hundreds of people come every day to tube down the
Ichetucknee River from Ichetucknee Springs.
In the off season, however, it is quite desolate.

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The dirt road that I grew up at the end of is now paved. This one, leading into Columbia City, remains a beautiful tree-lined dirt road.

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Want to buy your own piece of Floridian desolation? At the end of the above dirt road, right as it rolls into Columbia City, sits this house (which is for sale!)

I grew up not all that far from this house, although as its yard used to be completely wooded, and I never realized there was a house in there. Since it wasn't on "my" side of Hwy 47, this wasn't part of the woodlands that I spent my childhood romping through. I posted this picture of it on facebook, and my mom commented to say "Wasn't that the Darrell Davis house, where the guy got killed?" to which my response was along the lines of HOW WAS THERE A MURDER IN COLUMBIA CITY AND I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT? I mean, kids are morbid and I would have been totally obsessed, had I known. As it turned out that it happened in 1982 when I was all of three and a half years old, it makes sense that I didn't know about it (and I doubt it would have been the sort of thing my parents would talk about in front of me). The murder occurred in the family home located behind the S&S convenience store in Columbia City, although apparently this is not the Darrell Davis house. People in the know (AKA denizens of a Lake City/Columbia County facebook group, You know you're from Lake City when...) have told me that the Davis house was a block or brick masonry house located just to the north of this one. (If you want to read more about the murder and subsequent appeal, click here.)

If you take highway 240 east from Columbia City, you will eventually come to the intersection with 441, at another booming metropolis known as Watermelon Park. There's not much there, desolate or not... other than Nettles Sausage and a boarded up old building that was apparently once a church. It's been boarded up like that as long as I can remember. I don't know what kind of church it was or when it shut down, although other Columbia County folk (again from the local facebook group) have confirmed that it was indeed once a church. Several of them mentioned that it was actually moved to its present location, although I don't have any details on when that happened or where it was located originally.

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To the southeast of Watermelon Park, there are a large number of roads named after various members of the Feagle family, an old Columbia County family. At the end of one dirt road sits the remains of the old Feagle homestead. There's not much left of it.

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The sign in front of what's left of the homestead reads:
Home Place of David & Cora Feagle, Edith Feagle Witt, Phillip Smith Feagle, Maxie Eldred Feagle, Marion Cline Feagle

If you head further south, heading back towards Alachua county, there's another gem located at the end of another dirt road. It sits empty on a property, the owners of which appear to live in a much newer home on the same plat. I would love to have this house. As my mom had an old house moved onto her property and restored, I can totally see myself doing that one day. I'd love to move this house to my property.... if only it were available. And if only I had property, haha.

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9 comments:

  1. As a Florida girl myself, I enjoyed reading this piece and intend to follow you. I am out of state now so I will like to see you go where I can not.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I just posted a new one :-)

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  2. The Church in Watermelon Park you show in your Photos is owned by a family friend Alex Coleson he owns that property and actually lives across the street from the church. I am sure he could share the history of the church with you I believe his family may have owned that very property for a long time.

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    1. I would definitely be interested in learning more about the church - I have wondered about that building for years!

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  3. I love it.. I grew up in Columbia city.. Ur right 30mins to town.. Lol.. I also couldn't wait to leave.. Now "adult me" would LOVE to move back to our old house.. We had almost 12 huge oak trees in the front yard!! I miss it.. Miss my horses.. Miss that time in my life. Tyvm for your blog.. Memory lane is good sometimes

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  4. I love it.. I grew up in Columbia city.. Ur right 30mins to town.. Lol.. I also couldn't wait to leave.. Now "adult me" would LOVE to move back to our old house.. We had almost 12 huge oak trees in the front yard!! I miss it.. Miss my horses.. Miss that time in my life. Tyvm for your blog.. Memory lane is good sometimes

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