Sunday, December 6, 2015

Old Bellamy Road, Part 2: Columbia County

Last month I explored the Alachua County legs of the Old Bellamy Road. I wrote about that experience, as well as a little about the history of the road itself in Old Bellamy Road: Part 1. If you're interested in seeing pictures of the Alachua County segments of the road and/or if you'd like to learn a little about the history of this road, please check out Part 1.

This past weekend, I decided to drive the Columbia County legs of the Old Bellamy Road. The westernmost segment of the Alachua County part of the Old Bellamy Road dead-ends into the O'Leno and River Rise State Park land, and the road picks up again in Columbia County on the western side of the park. There is a small parking lot where the Old Bellamy Road enters the park on its western edge, and the part of the road which traverses the parkland is open to hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders. I have yet to hike the stretch of Old Bellamy Road which crosses O'Leno, but I definitely plan to do that in the future. I did, however, park in the small lot and take some photos.

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At the easternmost part of Old Bellamy Road before it enters O'Leno, looking west.

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Where the road dead-ends into the park
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The road through the park, open to hikers, cyclists, and those on horseback.

From there I headed west as far as the remaining road would take me. While it is a dirt road for its entire length in Columbia County, Columbia's Old Bellamy Road is much more traveled than its Alachua counterparts. Additionally, while the road itself is quite scenic - mostly overhung with gorgeous old oaks - it was rather lacking in desolation or glimpses of Old Florida. The road is home to many of Columbia County's modern day residents, most of whom reside in modern houses, mainly in ranch-style houses and mobile homes.

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Not all desolation is 'old'...

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...although in this case, old desolation lurked behind its modern compatriot.

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A closer view

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Another shell of an older home, hidden by the trees

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The sign on the tree reads, "Take pride in your neighborhood and yourself. Please don't trash our road."

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The Columbia County stretch of Old Bellamy Road dead-ends roughly five miles west of O'leno, just after crossing SW Old Niblack Ave. (Lake City folks: did you know there was an Old Niblack Ave in the southern part of the county? I always associated that name with the school north of town where I attended sixth grade. I'm curious now about the connection between the school and the road of the same name between Fort White and High Springs. Perhaps the family of Minnie J. Niblack, for whom the school was named, lived down there? Does anyone know?) As far as I am aware, there are no other segments of road in Columbia County bearing the name of Old Bellamy or Bellamy. However, from what I can tell, the original road and Old Wire Road followed much of the same path into Lake City. Additionally, the route that Hwy 90 takes from Lake City westward to Live Oak then northwest to what is now the Suwannee River State Park, and onward toward Tallahassee, seems to follow much of the track originally set out in the 1820s as the Bellamy Road.

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