Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park - Homosassa, Florida

Just 3 miles from Florida's popular Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park stand the ruins of one of the state's Civil War era landmarks.

The Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins are all that remain of the 5,100 acre Margarita sugar plantation of U.S. Senator David Levy Yulee. One of Florida's most prominent businessmen, industrialists and political leaders, Yulee owned tens of thousands of acres across Central and North Florida. After finishing a term as Florida's first U.S. Senator, however, he was not reelected in 1850 and by 1851 had relocated to Margarita on the Homosassa River just up the Gulf Coast from Tampa.

The rich lowlands along the river were ideal for growing sugar cane, a crop that had been replaced by cotton in the northern regions of the state, and Yulee went heavily into the sugar business. Equipment was ordered from New York and brought in by ship and 69 slaves worked with cut limestone, brick and wood to build a sugar mill that soon was turning out barrels of Florida sugar for export to ports all along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts of the United States and beyond.

Yulee's home on nearby Tiger Tail Island was "accidentally" burned by the Union Navy during the Civil War, but the plantation and mill remained in full operation through most of the conflict. The Yulee Sugar Mill was a major source of sugar for the Confederate army.

The ruins of the mill still stand today at the center of a small Florida State Park. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/yuleesugarmill.

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