Naval Live Oaks Reserve
The trace of the old Federal
Road passes through the live
oaks of America's first
government tree farm.
Source of Naval Timbers
The ancient oak forest was
set aside by the government
to serve as a source of wood
for ship-building projects in
the days of  sailing ships.
Naval Live Oaks Reserve - Gulf Breeze, Florida - Naval Live Oaks Reserve, Florida - Naval Live Oaks Reserve, Florida
View from the Visitor Center
The overlook behind the visitor center at the Naval
Live Oaks section of Gulf Islands National Seashore
provides a beautiful view of Santa Rosa Sound.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
U.S. Highway 98 passes through a scenic
and beautiful historic area just east of Gulf
Breeze, Florida. The Naval Live Oaks
Reserve, now part of Gulf Islands National
Seashore, was America's first government
tree farm.

Purchased in 1828 under an authorization
from President John Quincy Adams, the
Naval Live Oaks Reserve began operation on
January 1, 1829. The first superintendent,
Henry Marie Brackenridge, worked on ideas
for cultivating live oaks and was the nation's
original federal forester.

The purpose was to maintain a constant
source of live oak timber for use in the
construction of ships for the U.S. Navy. An
important Navy Yard was located in nearby
Pensacola and wooden ships were built and
repaired there from the 1820s through the
time of the Civil War.

The widespread use of iron ships by the
War navies marked the beginning of the end
of wooden ships and the need for a Federal
live oak reserve ended as well. The site is
now a nature preserve maintained by Gulf
Islands National Seashore.

In addition to interpreting the role of the
reserve in ship construction, the park area
also preserves a section of Florida's historic
old Federal Road. Sometimes called the
military or "Andrew Jackson Trail," the road
was Florida's first coast-to-coast "highway.

Funded by the U.S. Congress, the Federal
Road was constructed soon after Florida
became a U.S. possession to provide
improved access between what were then
the territory's two cities, Pensacola and St.
Augustine. Surveyed in 1823 by a part of
soldiers from Pensacola, construction on the
section of road that passes through the
Naval Live Oaks Reserve was started on
October 6, 1824.
Using an existing trail that they could widen,
69 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Regiment
built the section through the reserve in just
four days.Despite its name, this section of
the trail was not used by Andrew Jackson
during the general's two invasions of Florida.
He led troops to Pensacola twice, but used
other early trails.

The Naval Live Oaks Reserve section of Gulf
Islands National Seashore is open daily and
features a visitor center, interpretive trail,
picnic areas, and winding nature trails that
lead along the shores of both Santa Rosa
Sound and Pensacola Bay. The entrance is
on U.S. 98 just east of
Breeze, Florida.

Please click here for more information.
Interpretive Trail
A nature trail leading from the
visitor center interprets the
history of significance of the
Naval Live Oaks Preserve.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: 8/28/2016