Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wandering the Ruins

Due to the fact that my strained back muscle was still giving me fits Denny and I limited our time in Flagler Beach to exploring the A1A, puttering around doing odd jobs on and in The Beast and finally driving about a mile and a half down the road to see the Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park.

The entry fee is $4 per vehicle for the park. There are a couple of nature trails and a canoe launch on the grounds as well as the ruins of the Bulow Plantation to explore but it's not a huge park. The path leading to the sugar mill allows you to see what the land looked like when Charles Bulow purchased his 4600+ acres of land to build his plantation. His slaves cleared 2200 acres and planted cotton, sugar cane, rice and indigo. As we walked the nature trail to the sugar mill ruins I couldn't help but be awed by the incredible amount of hard work the slaves would have had to clear such huge trees and large amounts of brush and palmettos to be able to plant fields of cotton. There are only a few limestone blocks left in the area of the slave housing; it is said that Major Bulow owned 159 slaves who were housed in 46 cabins that measured 12 feet by 16 feet and that the slaves were allowed to have gardens for growing their own food. All of this was considering treating them well by the standards of the day. Major Bulow himself died only two years after the plantation was built and the grounds planted and his 17 year old son took over the reins of the business upon Major Bulow's death, successfully running the plantation until the start of the Second Seminole Indian War.
The path to the sugar mill is about 1/4 mile long, although you can also drive to the site. There are plaques that explain what you are seeing and what process of the sugar cane extraction took place in which area. The grinding mechanism was operated by a steam engine so the mill was quite modern for its time.
An artist's interpretation of what the sugar mill originally looked like.

During the time of the plantation's operation, there was unrest among the local tribes of the Seminole Indian Nation over the government's treatment of them and in not honoring treaties. When the government attempted to force the Seminoles into reservations west of the Mississippi River, the Indians rebelled and the war started. Bulow Plantation was taken over by army troups but they soon withdrew from the plantation due to the soldiers falling ill with dysentery and yellow fever. The Seminoles then burned all the local plantations, including Bulow Plantation and its mill. The land once again looks as it did when the Indians lived there as all that's left of the plantation house are the remnants of the support pillars at the four corners of the house. You can see them in the picture below; they are the four slender white posts within the fence. Denny and I measured it off--the house would have been 40 feet wide by 60 feet long. Not a Tara, to be sure.To the rear of the plantation house was Bulow Creek. The creek was used to ship the cotton, indigo, molasses and sugar down to the creek to the Halifax River on Bulow's barges. From there they proceeded to Mosquito Inlet (now called Ponce Inlet) and on to the Caribbean and the east coast. Supposedly John Audobon came here to study native Florida birds which was considered unusual as most plantation owners would have considered Audobon's work as trivial and non-productive. The boat slips still exist because Bulow lined them with the empty ale and wine bottles from house parties which kept the creek banks intact. And finally, simply because it intrigued me, are three blurry photographs of a chamleon. I was trying to focus in on him as he ran up the tree from the ground but quickly realized that he was changed color as I snapped away. He went from lime green to mottled brown in less than 15 seconds. He actually became much darker in color, but I stopped after the three shots when the camera wouldn't focus quickly enough. Mother Nature is amazing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So much history on that plantation. Places like that tend to leave me in awe of others that walked there many years before. I find it very fascinating.

And wonderful shots of Mr. Chameleon. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze. :-)

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