Safety Harbor Mound
The ancient mound provides
a spectacular view of Old
Tampa Bay.
Site of Early Spanish Contact
The top layers of the mound
revealed artifacts left behind
by early Spanish explorers.
Safety Harbor Mounds - Safety Harbor, Florida - Safety Harbor Mounds, Florida - Safety Harbor Mounds, Florida
Safety Harbor Temple Mound
A stone staircase leads to the top of the massive
Safety Harbor Temple Mound in Florida. The mound
was in use when Spanish explorers arrived.
The Capital of Tocobaga?
One of the most magnificent sights in the
Tampa-St. Petersburg area is the view of Old
Tampa Bay from the top of the Safety Harbor

Located on the waterfront in Philippi Park,
just a few blocks from downtown Safety
Harbor, the huge mound is a remnant of
what some believe was once the capital of
the Tocobaga chiefdom.

Neither Panfilo de Narvaez nor Hernando de
Soto seem to have visited the site, although
the documents that tell they story of their stay
in the area are meager. It is known, however,
that Pedro Menendez de Aviles visited the
site in 1566, just one year after establishing
the first permanent settlement in the United
States at
St. Augustine.

Menendez came to Safety Harbor hoping to
negotiate a truce between the Calusa chief
Carlos, from near today's Fort Myers, and the
principal chief of Tocobaga. In the process,
he rescued a number of Europeans who had
apparently been shipwrecked and taken
prisoner by the warriors of the Safety Harbor

The Spanish established a fort and mission
at Tocobaga. Although the exact site is
unknown, so many 16th century European
artifacts have been found at Safety Harbor
that it is reasonable to believe that this first
European settlement in the Tampa Bay area
stood at Philippi Park.

It was a short-lived effort. In 1567, the
Tocobaga decided they had seen enough of
the Spanish and wiped them out. A priest
who arrived a short time later with supplies
for the settlement blamed the soldiers for
their own deaths, accusing them of cruelty
toward the Indians.

The Tocobaga themselves did not long
survive either. By the mid-1700s they were all
gone, leaving behind only their mounds,
shell middens and village sites to tell their

When first described by archaeologists, the
Safety Harbor site consisted of the large 20
foot high temple mound, a smaller burial
mound and at least two large shell middens.
Today the site is part of a charming park area
and the temple mound is a major area land-

Philippi Park is located at 2525 Philippi Park-
way in Safety Harbor, Florida, just north of
Petersburg. The park is open daily during
daylight hours and also features walking
paths, picnic areas, a boat ramp, fishing, a
boat ramp and spectacular views of the bay.
The oak trees in the park and the canopy
road leading through it are absolutely

Please click here to learn more about the
Philippi Park.
A Platform Mound
Archaeologists found proof
that ancient structures once
stood atop the mound.
Canopy Road at Philippi Park
The beautiful 122-acre park is
noted for its magnificent oak
trees and a canopied access
Photos by Lauren Pitone
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.