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.