After leaving the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, we headed north on US Hwy. 19 passing by or through Tarpon Springs, Spring Hill, Homosassa Springs and Crystal River as we made our way toward a true hide-a-way on Florida’s west coast…
The marshy low lying land along Florida’s west coast from Homosassa Springs all the way up to just south of Tallahassee is sparsely populated. Most of the people in this area live inland a few miles along the US Hwy. 19/Alt. US 27 corridor, with only a scattering of small towns/fishing villages over on the coast.
But then there is the ‘City’ of Cedar Key… Visitors have to drive 21 miles west on FL Hwy. 24 through woodland and scrub from US Hwy. 19 to reach the town. The estimated population of this historic little city in 2014 was 698…down from its peak of 1,066 back in 1930.
This 1884 map of Cedar Key shows that it once was a very busy place and an important commercial seaport, shipping lumber and naval stores harvested on the mainland. By 1860 two mills on Atsena Otie Key were producing "cedar" slats for shipment to northern pencil factories. Note the railroad trestle leading across the shallow bay to the town. Cedar Key was served by the railroad until 1932.
This is Dock Street in Cedar Key. Most of the more modern tourist related businesses and restaurants are scattered along this street. What we didn’t know was that right after Labor Day many of the businesses and dining establishments just close down and take a break.
We drove all around town and checked out some of the homes… We particularly liked this old Queen Anne Victorian style home. It’s the W.R. Hodges House and it was built in 1896. Many of the smaller old homes at Cedar Key reminded us of houses in Key West Florida.
This is a view looking up Second Street in ‘downtown’ Cedar Key. Many of the buildings along this street are well over 100 years old. One business, the Island Hotel was built back in 1859. The hotel and many of these older structures have been able to withstand the elements (including numerous hurricanes) because of the way they were built. A mixture of oyster shell, limestone and sand were poured to form thick ‘tabby’ walls.
To learn more about the Island Hotel, its ghosts and reservations, just go to http://islandhotel-cedarkey.com/.
This is a view of the main portion of Cedar Key from a separate key (island) at the southwest corner of Way Key, the main island. The key that this photo was taken from has a number of homes on either side but it also has an airport right down its center. The runway is short– the shortest paved runway of Florida’s public airports...2,355 feet long by 100 feet wide.
Pilots…for a great view of Cedar Key’s airport and its approach from the air, just go to http://www.cedarkeyairport.org/.
This is a peaceful place to take a break from our hectic world… It’s a great place to just relax if that’s your thing. Read a book, explore the island, rent a boat, kayak, do some fishing or take a boat tour. There are plenty of condo and homes that visitors can rent. Motel and hotel space is somewhat limited.
Cedar Key has its share of critters…with lots of lizards, skinks and the like as well as a plethora of bird life…and even a tortoise!
A bird watching group was arriving for an outing the day after we arrived and we’re sure that they got their monies worth! In the bottom photo, an entire flock of adult and juvenile seagulls and a few shorebirds have completely taken over this pier.
Laurie caught this photo of yours truly wandering down Second Street in old Cedar Key in an effort to keep up with her and Dawn Marie as they visited one of the 2 or 3 shops that were open during our visit.
(From my point of view, the lack of places to shop was one of the benefits of visiting Cedar Key when we did!)
Much like in Key West, there were cats everywhere in Cedar Key. This particular craft/art store on Second Street had 3 different cats lounging around. This big boy was in charge of the cash register!
This is a water view of the shops and restaurants along Dock Street. It is fair to say that the town and especially these commercial buildings are vulnerable to any storms that might come along.
This aerial view of Cedar Key shows just how exposed the city is to the sea and stormy weather.
Historically Cedar Key experiences a hurricane, a brush with a hurricane, a tropical storm or a ‘back door’ hurricane from the east coast of Florida once every 2.75 years. In 1950 a hurricane destroyed 2/3 of the homes in town. In 2013 Hurricane Andrea passed by…fortunately not a direct hit…but to see what it was like in Cedar Key, check out the photos at http://everymilesamemory.com/tropical-storm-andrea-hits-cedar-key/.
This is the only real beach at Cedar Key…so if you’re a beach comber or beach based sunbather, this may not be the place for you. In this respect, Cedar Key is much like the Florida Keys, which also lacks any great quantity of beaches.
There are signs of quirkiness here and there around Cedar Key…but these signs are muted and less blatant than one would see in Key West. This ‘sexy’ sculpture adorns a deserted/unoccupied single wide on a side road on one of the small keys leading into the main part of town.
What you’re seeing above in the photo of the shallow bay is a series of oyster beds. After a statewide ban on large-scale net fishing went into effect in 1995, a government retraining program helped many local fishermen begin farming clams in the muddy waters around the keys. Today Cedar Key's clam-based aquaculture is a multi-million dollar industry. A local guide told us that they are now trying to develop oyster farming in conjunction with the clam farms…
Laurie snapped this photo of an osprey sitting in a pine tree near the road in Cedar Key. I would imagine that with the shallow bays around the keys, fishing would be top notch for this beautiful raptor!
This red-bellied woodpecker was working over a palm tree just outside the condo where we were staying. As you can see, he didn’t pay much attention to us!
Here are 3 photos that were taken to prove that we were actually in Cedar Key. First was Dawn Marie and me, then Laurie and Dawn Marie and finally, Laurie and me…together again on yet another travel adventure.
In subsequent postings, I’ll talk about a couple of restaurants where we dined, the condo we stayed in, plus our guided boat tour of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife refuge…
That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
Thanks for stopping by for a brief tour of Cedar Key!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave