ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Cedar Key, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Cedar Key, Florida
Cedar Key, Florida
The historic and charming community of Cedar Key is
quietly nestled on the Gulf Coast of Florida, far away
from the state's bustling highways and cities.
Cedar Key, Florida
The waters surrounding
Cedar Key sparkle in the light
of the afternoon sun.
Island Hotel at Cedar Key
A coastal landmark, the
historic Island Hotel in Cedar
Key first opened its doors in
the 1850s.
Landmark of a Golden Past
Many of the buildings in the
downtown area date from
Cedar Key's era as an
important Gulf Coast port.
Cedar Key, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Port City of the Nature Coast
The Cedar Keys of Florida
The modern city of Cedar Key
encompasses several of a
group of islands known for
centuries as the Cedar Keys.
As an example of the difference a century can
make, the once booming Florida port city of
Cedar Key is now a charming and hospital
historic community on the state's northern
Gulf Coast.

Although the Cedar Keys had been known
from the earliest days of Spanish exploration
of the Gulf Coast and had likely been used by
both merchant vessels and pirate ships as a
place of refuge, it was not until the 19th
century that a community began to grow on
the islands. The U.S. Army had something to
do with this, using Cedar Keys as a base of
operations during the Second Seminole War
and held captured Seminole warriors and
their families there pending their forced
removal west to what is now Oklahoma on
the Trail of Tears.

The town of Cedar Key itself was founded in
the 1840s by Augustus Steel and had
become a flourishing port city by the time of
the Civil War. The designation of the city as a
terminal for David L. Yulee's Cross Florida
Railroad enhanced its status even more.

The railroad ran from Fernandina on the
Atlantic Coast to Cedar Key on the Gulf, and
provided a way to quickly move passengers
and cargo from one coast to the other,
eliminating much of the need for the long and
dangerous trips around the tip of Florida that
ships had previously been forced to make.

In 1861, however, Florida seceded from the
Union and soon joined the Confederate
States of America. Cannon were mounted on
Seahorse Key to defend the port and troops
were stationed at Cedar Key to defend the
town from Union attack. Saltworks were built
on the islands to extract salt from the waters
of the Gulf.

Such efforts ended in 1862, however, when
the
Union navy attacked Cedar Key. A Union
post was soon established on the islands
and served as a base for raids into the
interior. One such expedition ended in harsh
fighting at the
Battle of Station Four.  Several
hundred soldiers from Cedar Key also took
part in the 1865 expedition that ended at the
Battle of Natural Bridge.

In 1867 the famed naturalist John Muir ended
his walk from Kentucky to Florida at Cedar
Key. He marveled at the sight of the Gulf of
Mexico, and described how he stood "gazing
out on the burnished, treeless plain!"

Cedar Key, as the name implies, was the
center of an area richly covered with Southern
Red Cedar. In the years after the Civil War,
these trees provided a strong industry for the
town. Cedar trees from the Cedar Keys were
turned into pencils and other products and
the island community thrived once again.
The cedar and other industries thrived into
the 20th century, but eventually faded away.
Left behind, however, was one of the most
charming and historic coastal communities
in Florida.

Cedar Key today is a beautiful island town
noted for its historic builds and homes,
beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico and
access to some of the finest fishing waters
anywhere. Points of interest abound in the
area, which is a rich destination for both
heritage and eco tourism.

These include the Cedar Key Museum State
Park, the Cedar Key Museum, Cedar Keys
National Wildlife Refuge, Cedar Key Scrub
State Reserve, Shell Mound Park, traces of
Yulee's famous railroad, the historic
waterfront area and the site of the Battle of
Station Four.

Cedar Key offers various charming places to
stay and eat, as well as unique shopping
and charter boat expeditions. Birdwatching is
popular in the area and visitors can even take
carriage rides through the charming streets
of the old town. To learn more, please follow
the links below and be sure to visit the Cedar
Key Chamber of Commerce online at
www.cedarkey.org.
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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