Friday, March 20, 2009

Torreya State Park - Liberty County, Florida

This is a perfect time of year to visit Torreya State Park, a beautiful facility overlooking the Apalachicola River that features several sites related to the War Between the States. The dogwoods, redbuds and other spring plants are in bloom and the park is quite beautiful.

Established as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project during the Great Depression, Torreya is undoubtedly one of the most unique and beautiful state parks in Florida. It is located at Rock Bluff, a commanding vista that overlooks the Apalachicola and provides a spectacular view of Jackson and Calhoun Counties beyond. This is one of the only places in the world where Florida Torreya trees still grow. Local legend claims that they provided the "gopher wood" from which Noah built the ark.

The park now preserves the historic Gregory House, once the focal point of a large plantation that operated across the river at Ocheesee Bluff. The house, which entertained Confederate army and navy officers during the war, was donated to the park and restored there during the Depression era. It was one of the points to which casualties from the explosion of the warship C.S.S. Chattahoochee were carried in 1863.

Just down a trail from the Gregory House are the well-preserved earthwork remains of an artillery battery constructed on the bluff by Confederate troops. The gun emplacements are still quite visible, as are the infantry trenches and rifle pits that connected them. The fortification never came under attack, but played an important role in defending the Apalachicola River from Union gunboats.


SophieMae said...

I'm glad you posted about Torreya. It's been a while since I visited and valiantly resisted the temptation to dig around the gun emplacements for artifacts. 8-} This is THE best time of year in the Big Bend, with a bazillion dogwoods blooming, accented by wisteria, azaleas, lingering redbuds, saucer and star magnolias, etc.

Dale said...

You are absolutely right and it looks like this year is going to be the most spectacular for blooms that we've seen in a long time. The azaleas and dogwoods are just amazing this year. If anyone is looking for a great place to see spring flowers, Torreya is really nice and I also strongly recommend Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee. It may well be the prettiest spot in the South.