Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Do I Call it a Theft or My Carelessness?

Tuesday March 10, 2016                                                                   Most Recent Posts:
Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area                                                Never Make Predictions – A Double Header
Flagler Beach, Florida                                                                       From the Gulf to the Atlantic


The assumed theft was at the end of the day but before that, I was out for another beautiful sunrise.




Today we plan to go kayaking at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park where we can launch into Bulow Creek and paddle around it and its tributaries.

The road into the plantation is a long tree lined one.


The ramp is nice, the creek is up but so is the wind.  I’m not so sure about this.  It didn’t seem this windy when we left the coach.

We get the boats off and everything in them but I’m not having good feelings about this.



I tell David to go on and I’ll do the hike and he can kayak.  He suggests that he’ll test it out and come back and tell me.  I don’t think he can tell me anything that will change my mind about paddling into this wind.  I want a nice slow easy paddle not a work out.

But off he goes.



He’s almost out of sight and then he is out of sight and around the bend.   I wait on the dock.




He comes upon a Great Blue Heron standing tall before being spooked by David’s kayak.  He definitely looks great here. 




In a bit David comes back and I get this picture of him paddling back against the wind.  This is the first time I have ever seen his kayak hat brim blow up and we’ve been in some pretty stiff winds previously as those of you who follow along with us know.




He agrees that we’ll put the boats back on the car and decide to do the hike to the sugar mill ruins instead.




There’s nothing left of the plantation house or the slave quarters here but more about that in a bit.

The path from this spot, which is approximately where the plantation house once stood, to the sugar mill  goes by what was a horseshoe ring of slave quarters.  According to the Florida State Park website here at the ruins you can see “the crumbling foundation of the plantation house and slave cabins”.   If either of those are here still they are very well hidden.  Seems an update would be in order or some much better signage.

On the trail, an information sign tells us that John Bulow owned 159 slaves who were quartered in 46 houses.  The small wooden cabins were 12 feet wide and 16 feet long.  The coquina foundation blocks that are said to be the only surviving parts of the original structure are not in evidence.  Try as we might, we can’t find foundation blocks although we do find coquina stones but nothing that looks like a block.   As this was 200 years ago so perhaps it isn’t surprising.



It’s a really nice walk through what was a cleared landscape in Bulow’s day and is now beautifully forested as it well might have been before the land was acquired by anyone.





This tree is really interesting in the way it continues to be alive and healthy despite having the entire core burned out.  It has healed around the burned away sections but the entire inside is black.


David goes in to check this out.  Hope he doesn’t lean up against any part of it in his white shirt.


When we reach the ruins  I can see that this would be a great place to scare somebody seriously on Halloween. 


There many interesting information signs, diagrams, and maps showing where the buildings stood and what was inside each and what they all did. I’m not going to describe how a sugar mill works but there were two pieces of information that were particularly interesting.




One was the number of sugar plantations in this area in the 1820’s Between 1823 and 1836  Bulow was one of the largest and wealthiest sugar plantations in East Florida.   It is number 2 on the map.   They sure look like they were one on top of the other here or at least between Flagler Beach and Ormond Beach which is a distance of only fifteen miles.




Charles Wilhelm Bulow purchased the 4,675 acre plantation in 1821 when the United States obtained Florida as a territory after it had been in both British and Spanish control.  Charles died a mere two years later and his son John, at age 17, took over the plantation for the next 13 years and built it into the sugar empire it became.

This is a drawing of the early plantation with the big house by the river on the right and the slave quarters ringing the cleared land.  I don’t see 46 cabins here and if there were 10 times this many all here they would have been pretty close together.  The Mill is on the left side of the drawing.






The ruins of the sugar mill are really all that is left of the plantation.  It fell victim to the Seminole Wars.  The history at the site claims that in 1836, during the second Seminole War the Seminoles burned the plantation to the Ground but strangely did not burn the fortifications left by the soldiers seeking to round them up to send them west to reservations.  


This is just my opinion but it sure sounds  like more winner tells the tale history given that the history here also records that John Bulow had a good relationship with the Seminoles. He did not think the Seminoles should be removed.   In fact, John went so far as to fire cannons at Major Benjamin Putnam and the Mosquito Raiders when they came onto his property to try to remove the Indians. John was arrested, and the plantation was used for an outpost in the war against the Native Americans. When Putnam left and John was released, the plantation but not the fortification built by the army were burned to the ground.  Sounds pretty sketchy to me to say that the for sure the Indians did it given the background and the obvious hostility between Bulow and Putnam.

The drawing above is the plantation house and fortifications.  Nothing is left of any of this.



The sugar mill is built of local coquina stone, a sedimentary rock that is composed of the fragments of the shells






David remarked that constantly keeping this oven stoked must have been the most miserable of jobs.



You can walk all around the ruins and there are numerous signs to explain its workings.




The mill was all built by slave labor and the stone work is just excellent.









Just off the trail around the ruins is the interpretive center a building with all the exhibits on the inside.  You view them from the outside through glass walls, much easier to keep them climate controlled I would think.




The exhibits are of the history of the area and of the plantation.  I had no idea sugar cane was this tall.



At Christmas 1831 into January 1832, Bulow hosted the artist and naturalist John James Audubon, who explored the area in his continuing study of American birds.  Audubon painted this picture of two yellowlegs with the what is believed to be the plantation slave cottages in the background. It is the only picture of the plantation other than drawings from its construction.



Our last stop is to visit the spring which is quite large and provided water for the mill.






There are some large trees remaining on the plantation.


By now it’s time for lunch so we pick out a picnic table by Bulow Creek and find it is seriously too windy to even eat here. 



There is another day use state park called simply Bulow Creek State Park nearby which interestingly does not have a section of the creek as its main feature. This is not the private park Bulow Creek RV “Resort” which is an Encore park. This is the state park. We decide to try there for another picnic site.

We have been here before to see the main feature at Bulow Creek State Park, the huge Live Oak Tree known as the Fairchild Oak.   When we arrive the motorcyclists have preceded us.  I refer to these next few pictures as “the suspects”.



Some outfit wouldn’t you say?




We eat our lunch in the shelter in the company of the only other people in a car.  They leave shortly and it’s us and the motorcyclists. 





We finish our lunch and go over to get a picture of the gorgeous venerable old oak.

The plaque here claims the oak “could be as much as 2000 years old'”.   It’s definitely a beauty.



David and I have brought our lunches in the containers we had them packed in for the kayak trip. For me that was a dry bag. I also have my favorite relatively expensive plastic water bottle with me. I set them both off to the side to give this beauty a hug.






The bikers are horsing around especially the gal in “the outfit”.  All the guys want picture with her by the tree.  One guy is hugging her but he’s blocked by the next guy in line.  I snap this shot as I walk away.

At this point, I’m in a hurry to leave and unfortunately I walk off and forget to get the drybag and the bottle.  We are only 7 miles from our campsite and it isn’t until I get out of the car and collect my things that I notice I’ve forgotten them.  

I jump back in the car, race back to get them to find of course that they are not there.   There is no ranger station, no one on duty, no where to turn in anything lost or found.  This is a free state park. 

When we left, the folks in the pictures above were the only ones around.  I’m sure they saw me leave the items.   I guess they didn’t think I’d return and they have use for a plastic PCB free water bottle and a small dry bag.  


  1. I love walking around ruins, the stories they could tell. I'd say it's theft, if you don't own it you shouldn't take it, kind of sad and gives "bikers" another bad rap.

  2. Thanks for the biker pic Sherry. Hope it helps my dreams. Why worry about left items. Life has more to offer. David sure worked out.

  3. So sorry about the loss of your things! Fortunately we've found that kind of behavior to be the exception rather than the rule. When we were staying at Tomoka in February we drove right out of the campground onto Dixie Hwy past the ruins of the old Dummett Plantation (behind a chain link fence). It is hoped that eventually this area will be open to visitors also. Very interesting area!

  4. I'm sorry for your loss... but have to admit... that outfit made me wonder... I know for sure my hiney would be chaffed and right scuffed up if I'd been riding a motorcycle while wearing it. Maybe you just paid for the extra entertainment ;-)

  5. I first visited George Washington's residence and grounds when I was about 13 yrs old. They had a row of slave houses behind the mansion - they couldn't rightly be called houses or even cabins. The were off the ground, not tall enough to be stood up in, and reminded me of rabbit hutches. When I went back several years later there was no sign that they had ever been there, and down a path was a "memorial" to the slaves who were supposedly buried there.

  6. Despite the loss and the wind, the weather looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

  7. That outfit gives a whole new meaning to "hanging out!"

  8. That is quite an outfit! Not very good for hiking or kayaking. :-) That ancient live oak is amazing! To think that it's 2,000 years old….glad you gave it a hug.

  9. What an outfit....I'm sure it garners her PLENTY of attention. I prefer to be a shrinking violet....lol. Can you imagine the road coming into contact with all that skin in the event of an accident. Sorry for the loss of your items, Yes I know that sinking feeling!

  10. Super hike! Lots of great new info:) What a very cool tree! Glad it survived. Sorry about your back. Those some strange looking people!

  11. Why blame the bikers?..Their rides are worth more than yours.....Anyone could have picked it up....
    She is a pleasant view and I'm sure many others would agree and they all look happy..
    Relax....And enjoy your travels.

    1. Definitely my carelessness but as I said no one but bikers were there when I left or came back minutes later.

    2. Did you ask them if someone found your lost items? During the 20 minutes or so you were gone others may have stopped by the tree also.

  12. Sorry you ran across someone who was dishonest and took your things. I know they are out there, sadly with sticky fingers. It could happen to anyone, it's happened to me a time or two, also. I lost a really nice knife when I was in the Coast Guard, stolen right out of my bag in my room. Never found out who took it, but it was someone I was serving with. I'd have rather lost it to a stranger.

    1. PS: That outfit that woman was wearing gives new meaning to the term "Blowin' in the wind"! :cD

  13. Ugh. Sorry about your loss, that put a damper on your day.

  14. It is so annoying to lose something under these circumstances - not knowing exactly what happened after we left. The mind abhors a vacuum and must fill in the blanks somehow, even if there is limited data. Very frustrating, angering and annoying. So sorry this happened to you because in my experience you are not a careless person, much to the contrary. Now what I want to know is how could there have been so much demand for sugar back in those days that along this one stretch of land so much energy could have been dedicated to that one pursuit? I guess we as a people have a long and deep connection with sugar - and some of us in particular.

  15. The ruins are well worth preserving, particularly given the history.

    At least it wasn't a camera or a wallet lost.

  16. I can't understand people. Why wouldn't they tell you they saw you leave it?

  17. I'd chalk it up to a senior moment.

  18. We were just there 2 weeks ago, and took pictures at that cool open tree too! We camped nearby at Tomoka SP- a beautiful spot with shady sites surrounded by lots of vegetation, alot like Bulow Plantation. We were Daytona for Quilt Week, just prior to Bike Week. I know some biker quilters, so there could have been some overlap. Sorry we missed meeting you guys!

  19. Love the burned out tree - what a survivor, just like its friend! I agree the place looks like a perfect Halloween locale - especially all the gray pillars and moss in the trees. I also think your skepticism of the "history" of the plantation's demise is appropriate. The other facts don't add up. I imagine these places have a similar feeling to that of the Japanese detention camps - some sadness and fear with some lighter feelings of family making the best of a bad situation. David's point about the need for so much sugar is valid - did everyone have wooden teeth??? Love that majestic tree, glad you were there to give it a good hug. I bet she wears leathers and boots on the bike - looks like photos was part of the goal for their day. Karma always works it out......you can smile as you play different scenarios in your head :-))))))))

  20. Unfortunately much of our written history is BS by the winners. This Seminole story sounds fishy. Wonder if she actually rides in that outfit. That ancient Oak is a marvelous old Ent. Sorry to hear about your loss/theft.

  21. That burned out tree was like a sculpture- beautiful. When I read the title, I was sure that someone had stolen your kayak. It's annoying but I guess I agree with one of the other posters who said to let it go and that there are more important things to think about rather than to obsess about the water bottle and dry bag. The ruin of the plantation are interesting. I am amazed that a 17 year old took over his father's plantation and turned it into such a success. Given 17 year olds today, it seems remarkable. xxxooo

  22. Well, that's annoying, especially if they saw you leave them and actually took them anyway...not kind. That outfit is definitely an attention grab! Neat tree and place. It is interesting how much history is shaped by those who tell it.

  23. At least your camera was not in the dry bag :). I would be pissed off initially at myself but those things are replaceable, and not worth fretting but a good excuse to get new ones.


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