Beyond Tourism: America's Yesteryear

A blog of American History

Friday Finds August 20, 2010

The Rebuilding of St. George Island Lighthouse – Read how the people of St. George rebuilt their lighthouse using original materials and blueprints.

Apalachicola Maritime Museum – Planning a trip to Florida or live in Florida and you love sailing, boating, and it’s history. This museum would be a good place to visit.

Harry T. and Harriet V. Moore Cultural Center – From the website “The 11.93-acre Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park features the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Center. The Moores were parents, educators, and leading local and national civil rights activists. After organizing the first Brevard County Branch of the NAACP, they remained instrumental in the NAACP and the fight for equality and justice until their untimely deaths. On Christmas night 1951, they were murdered for their involvement in the civil rights movement when a bomb exploded under their home. The park is dedicated to the celebration of their lives and to promoting awareness of their unique contributions to the early civil rights movement.”

History of Melbourne Florida – Read a short history of the town of Melbourne, Florida from the Pioneer age to the Space age.

Historic Rossetter House Museum & Gardens – This is actually two houses and a cemetery. Catch a glimpse of early Melbourne, Florida. Includes group tours, and ghost tours.

History of Jefferson County, Florida – Learn about the Aucilla Prehistory Project, the Monticello Opera House, and more about Jefferson County on their site.


Friday Finds: Videos April 30, 2010

A fun way to learn more about our state is read websites and books written for tourists. has lots of videos created by Florida natives about Florida. Here are six videos of the hundreds available for viewing.

1. Dade Battlefield Reenactment – Lucy Beebe Tobias Dade Battlefield Historic State Park near Tampa, brings history to life with a reenactment of a battle that occurred between the Seminoles and the American soldiers during 1835. This even occurs every January. Join Lucy Beebe Tobias, our former VISIT FLORIDA Authentic Expert, as we witness a reenactment in action in this video.

2. Castillo De San Marcos – Lucy Beebe Tobias A bastion of the largest empire ever created, the Castillo was built to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the New World. Though caught in the whirlwinds of colonial warfare and intrigue, it was never defeated in battle. Its scarred walls still stand witness to over 330 years of history and culture. In this video, our Authentic Florida experts takes us through this historical site.

3. Miami Architecture – Jen Karetnick from Miami Modern, to Art Deco, to Renaissance Revival, Miami’s architectural styles define the area as much as the beaches do. In this video, take an architecture tour of South Beach with VISIT FLORIDA’s Arts & Culture expert, Jen Karetnick.

4. The Salvador Dali Museum – Jen Karetnick the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg houses the largest collection of the surrealist’s work in the United States. In this video, Florida Arts & Culture expert Jen Karetnik takes you on a tour of these grand masterpieces.

5. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art – Jen Karetnick in this video, join our Art & Culture Expert as she take you through the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. From the arts to the circus it has something for everyone.

6. Kingsley Plantation – Lucy Beebe Tobias the Kingsley Plantation, administered by the National Park Service, is located on Fort George Island and includes the plantation house, a kitchen house, a barn, and the ruins of 25 of the original slave cabins. The history of the island spans more than 1000 years beginning with the Timucuan Indians. Our Authentic Florida expert takes us on a video tour of this historic site.


Friday Finds February 26, 2010

Experience the Florida Everglades at Billie Swamp Safari– Learn about traditional Seminole life. Take an air boat ride or swamp buggy tour. All at Billie Swamp Safari located in the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. There is also hiking, camping and various shows.

Tomoka State Park– Located near the confluence of the Tomoka and Halifax rivers, Tomoka State Park offers scenic oaks and camping where early native Americans once lived off the fish-filled lagoons. Camping, canoeing, fishing, boating, picnicking and nature trails are available. Swimming is not permitted in the rivers within this park. A museum and visitor center houses exhibits on natural and cultural history and various works by artist Fred Dana Marsh.

Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City March 4-14– It’s the 75th Anniversary of Florida Strawberry Festival.  There is free entertainment included with gate admission, such as numerous stage shows, exhibits of agriculture, horticulture, commerce, fine arts, homemade goods and crafts, and livestock competitions.

The Floridians– A free online textbook about the social history of Florida. It is an interactive Florida history text book with photographs, maps, sample questions, and workbook pages. It may be used as part of a history course or as a popular reference to the story of Florida. A possible resource for teachers and homeschoolers.

The Florida Keys History of Diving Museum– Florida is a peninsula so diving is a large part of our history and culture. Stop by Islamodara, Florida Keys to learn about the history of commercial, military, and recreational diving.

History of Pasco County, Florida– Learn about the history of Pasco County, Florida. It includes photographs and video clips.


Trains, Trains, Trains June 30, 2009

Flagler with his first wife Mary (back) and her sister Isabelle in the 1850s

Flagler with his first wife Mary (back) and her sister Isabelle in the 1850's

In my previous post I wrote a little bit about the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and how it destroyed the Miami/Key West line of his railroad.

December 31, 1885: Flagler purchased railroad between Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

1892: Charter from the State of Florida to allow building of railroad to Miami

May 28, 1892: Incorporated the Florida Coast and Gulf Railway

March 22, 1894: Railroad reaches Lake Worth

April 2, 1894: Railroad completed to West Palm Beach

September 13, 1895: Railroad name changed to Florida East Coast Railway

April 16, 1896: Railroad completed to Miami

January 22, 1912: First official train arrives in Key West Florida

September 2, 1935: Labor Day category 5 hurricane rips through the keys destroying the Miami/Key West line of the Florida East Coast Railway.

1935: Florida East Coast Railway sells railway to state in order recoup losses from the  unrepairable  rail line. It was later converted to a bridge for car travel and then shut down when the Overland Highway was built.

Flagler died a year after the Miami/Key West was completed and so never learned of the destruction the hurricane caused and the subsequent selling off of his company to the state. If you want to learn more about Henry Morrison Flagler beyond the railroad you can go here.

Now you can take a tour of Flagler’s Florida by visiting Sarasota History Alive. They have a postcard slide show which follows the Florida East Coast Railway from Jacksonville, Florida all the way to Key West. It ends with a map of the railway. Each postcard slide has a short but informative captions explaining what is in each postcard and the view it is taken from.

Want to ride a real train? Check out these places to take a tour and ride a real train:

*1. Seminole Gulf Railway: Home of Florida’s Murder Mystery Dinner Train in Ft. Myers, Florida

2. Inland Lakes Railway Florida in Eustis, Florida

3. Conch Tour Train in Key West, Florida while it’s not an actual train it is a nice way to tour the island.

Not interested in taking a train ride. Try visiting a railroad museum:

1. Boca Express Train Museum in Boca Raton, Florida

2. Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish, Florida

3. South Florida Railway Museum in Deerfield Beach, Florida

4. Whitehall Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida.

*With the exception of the Conch Tour Train I have never been on any on any of these tours or museums. The last time I was on the Conch Tour Train I was around 6 years old. Drop a line if you’ve been on any of these tours and if they are worth it or if you know of any other Florida train tours. This is not an exhaustive list of museums or tours just a little something to get you interested. If you do go or have been on any of these tours or visited any of these museums drop a line and let me know if you enjoyed it.