DeBary Historical TrailDeBary Historical Trail


1....Print this file.

2....At its end, click on "rules" to see a copy of the trail rules, print it, and then click where indicated at the end of the 3-page rules and patch order form to get back to the list of Florida trails.

3....If you want a hand-drawn map showing the locations of all of the sites, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Steve Rajtar, 1614 Bimini Dr., Orlando, FL 32806.

4....Hike the trail and oder whatever patches you like (optional).

WARNING - This trail may pass through one or more neighborhoods which, although full of history, may now be unsafe for individuals on foot, or which may make you feel unsafe there. Hikers have been approached by individuals who have asked for handouts or who have inquired (not always in a friendly manner) why the hikers are in their neighborhood. Drugs and other inappropriate items have been found by hikers in some neighborhoods. It is suggested that you drive the hike routes first to see if you will feel comfortable walking them and, if you don't think it's a good place for you walk, you might want to consider (1) traveling with a large group, (2) doing the route on bicycles, or (3) choosing another hike route. The degree of comfort will vary with the individual and with the time and season of the hike, so you need to make the determination using your best judgment. If you hike the trail, you accept all risks involved.

DeBary Historical Trail

Copyright 1999 by Steve Rajtar

(From Interstate 4, take Exit 104 and drive east on Orange Blvd., north on CR 15 (Monroe Rd.), and west on US 17-92 to park in Lake Monroe Wayside Park. Walk north to the bridge.)(0.0 miles so far)

Northeast side of US 17-92 on the south shore of Lake Monroe/St. Johns River (4150 NW US 17-92)

1....Lake Monroe Bridge

A wooden bridge here was completed on February 15, 1916. Former ferry operator Zeke Stafford lived in a house midway across the bridge, collecting a 50 cent toll. The draw mechanism was hand-operated.

The wooden bridge was replaced in 1933 by this steel one constructed by Ingall's Iron Works of Birmingham, Alabama. It was the first electrically operated swing bridge in the state. The bridge was 627 feet long, including a swing span of 235 feet which pivoted 360 degrees on a curved rack and two spur pinions.

(Walk south and east on US 17-92 to the intersection with CR 15 and look to the southeast.)(0.5)

Southeast corner of US 17-92 and CR 15

2....Site of Woodland Park

Victor Schmelz bought six acres here in 1891, intending to mine a shell mound located on the property for road surfacing material. After that was completed, the resulting hole was made into an 80 x 30 foot swimming pool by drilling a three-inch artesian well. The pool was emptied each day, and the well refilled it within 12 hours.

Victor Schmelz & Son ran the park, having its best years from 1910 to 1920. Admission cost five cents and bathing suits could be rented. There was swimming, dancing, picnicking and music. A dock extending into Lake Monroe accommodated small boats.

(Walk southwest on CR 15 to the railroad tracks.)(0.7)

Intersection of CR 15 and Orange Blvd.

3....Lake Monroe

The unincorporated community of Lake Monroe appeared here in about 1900. In May of 1916, Peter Ahearn established a post office named Ahearn, renamed Lake Monroe seven months later. The area supported truck farming, with crops being shipped out by boat and then by rail.

(Continue south on CR 15, then walk east 700 feet on School St.)(1.1)

South side of School St. east of St. Joseph Ct. (4009 School St.)

4....Lake Monroe School

The main portion of this school building was constructed in 1918, and a wing was added to the rear in 1926. It later became privately owned.

(Walk west on School St., north on CR 15, and west, northwest and north on US 17-92 to the middle of the present bridge, and look to the east.)(2.2)

North and east of US 17-92

5....Lake Monroe

This lake was referred to as "middle lake" when the area was first surveyed by John Bartram in 1766. Shortly thereafter, it was again surveyed by William DeBrahm, who named it Lake Grant for the Grant family who had been granted 20,000 acres on the east side of the lake.

The lake was first referred to as Monroe's Lake on the 1823 map of Charles Vignoles, which he based on an 1822 survey performed by John Eatton LeConte.

(Continue north on US 17-92 (C.R. Beall Blvd.) to the intersection with Old DeLand Rd. and look to the southeast.)(2.4)

Intersection of C.R. Beall Blvd. (US 17-92) and Old DeLand Rd.

6....Site of Stafford Lunch Room

Nathaniel Stafford ran a lunch room, blacksmith shop and gas station at this intersection during the 1930s. Nearby was an orange and cattle loading pier. Nathaniel's nephew, William, donated land next to his home on US 17-92 for what became known as the Stafford Methodist Church, which later was abandoned.

(Cross to the northeast corner and look to the southeast.)(2.4)

Southeast end of Old DeLand Rd. at the north shore of Lake Monroe/St. Johns River

7....Site of Monroe-DeLand Ferry

A ferry service was operated by Zeke Stafford, who arrived here in 1911. In 1916, it was replaced by a wooden drawbridge built by Michael Sholtz's Concrete Bridge Co.

The ferry ran from the end of Old DeLand Rd. (which was the main thoroughfare in this area) to a spot approximately where the Interstate 4 bridge now reaches the south shore.

(Continue north on C.R. Beall Blvd. (US 17-92) to the intersection with Meadors Ln.)(2.7)

East of Barwick Rd. and C.R. Beall Blvd. (US 17-92), just north of Lake Monroe Park and Old DeLand Rd.

8....Site of Valdez

In 1787, secretary of the Spanish navy Antonio Valdez had the area surveyed by Lt. Jose del Rio Cossa, who changed the name of Lake George to Laguna Valdez, but the Spanish admiralty used Laguna Valdez as the name of present Lake Monroe.

Later, the name Valdez was given to this area. It became North Monroe and, when DeBary was established in 1948, it was renamed South DeBary.

(Continue north on C.R. Beall Blvd. (US 17-92), then walk west on Fort Florida Rd. to the intersection with Shell Rd. and look to the west.)(3.5)

West end of Fort Florida Rd.

9....Fort Florida Landing

On a shell mound bluff known as Florida Point, which may be what John Bartram named "Bartram's Bluff" in 1766, was Fort Florida. Gen. Winfield Scott designated it as such when he used it as a depot during the Second Seminole War in 1835-42.

From 1880 until 1930, it was a steamboat stop known as Fort Florida Landing. The site is about 3 miles west of here.

(Walk north on Shell Rd. to the intersection with Benson Junction Rd.)(4.2)

Intersection of Benson Junction and Shell Rds.

10....Site of Benson Junction

In the first half of the 20th Century, this area was known as Enterprise Junction and later as Benson Junction, as a result of a crossing of railroad tracks of the Indian River Division, owned by Luther Caldwell and Elijah Watson. The tracks were taken up in the 1970s, eliminating the junction.

(Look to the west on Benson Junction Rd.)(4.2)

West end of Benson Junction Rd.

11....Site of Ox Brush Fibre Company

This company opened in 1884 in Sanford, and then moved here 1925. For a time, it was the largest producer of brushes in the U.S., making them from cabbage palm fibers. In addition to its manufacturing plant, it had 17 houses for its employees, a post office and stores. It closed during the 1970s.

(Continue north on Shell Rd., then walk east on Sanford Ave., south on C.R. Beall Blvd. (US 17-92), east on Plantation Rd., south on Margarita Rd., and east on Sunrise Blvd. to the intersection with Mansion Blvd.)(6.5)

North side of Sunrise Blvd., across from Mansion Blvd. (210 Sunrise Blvd.)

12....DeBary Hall

Baron Samuel Frederick DeBary was friends with the G.H. Mumm family, who were interested in expanding their champagne business to the U.S. He traveled to New York in 1840 to be Mumm's sole import distributor. By 1870, he had become a millionaire and traveled to Florida, where he became enchanted by its natural beauty and wild game.

DeBary built this Colonial style wood frame plantation house in 1871, and he wintered here until his death in 1898. The crystal panes in the windows were hand-blown. It features a two-tiered veranda around three sides. Some of the cypress lumber and other materials were shipped up the St. Johns River by the Fox Lumber Company of Georgia, a supplier of the Brock House.

Originally, the house sat on 400 acres purchased by DeBary in 1871. Later, he acquired about 9,000 more. DeBary had a sugar mill on the east bank of DeBary Creek near the north end of the present-day Interstate 4 bridge over the river. Guests at this home included European royalty and U.S. Presidents Grant and Cleveland.

DeBary acquired the steamboat George M. Bird in 1875, using it to carry his horses and dogs on the river on hunting expeditions, and to take fruit to market. In 1876, he established the DeBary Merchants Line, which acquired the sidwheeler Frederick DeBary. It merged with the Baya Line in 1883 to create the DeBary-Baya Merchants Line, with 13 steamboats. The business became part of the Clyde St. Johns River Line in 1889.

DeBary willed the estate to his two children, Adolphe and Eugenie. It passed in the 1930s to Benjamin Brewster and his wife, Leonie, Frederick's great granddaughter. Leonie, his last heir, died in an air accident in 1941 and her estate sold the property to V.F. Proctor's Paco Land Company.

It was sold again in 1945 to George Stedronsky of Mount Dora, who moved in during 1946 and became the first resident who was not related to the DeBarys. He sold it in 1947 to Plantation Estates, Incorporated, who used it as a clubhouse for a retirement community it was developing.

It was acquired by the Florida Federation of Art, Inc. in 1959 to be used as its state headquarters. It was designated as a state historic memorial in 1967 and a historic marker was placed here on June 16, 1968. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 24, 1972. The large cycas revolua (sago palm) in front of the home was planted in about 1900.

(Walk south on the paved multi-use trail (Spring-to-Spring Trail) which begins across Sunrise Blvd. from DeBary Hall. Walk south and west on the trail, parallel to Mansion Blvd. and Dirksen Dr. until it ends, then continue west on Dirksen Dr. and south on US 17-92 to the point of beginning.)(10.9)


A Guide to National Register Sites in Florida, (Florida Department of State 1984)

A Pictorial History of West Volusia County 1870-1970, by William J. Dreggors, Jr. and John Stephen Hess (E.O. Painter Printing Co. 1989)

Discover Florida: A Guide to Unique Sites and Sights, by Robert Tolf (Manatee Books 1982)

Early Days of Seminole County, Florida, by Arthur E. Francke, Jr. (Seminole County Historical Commission 1984)

Florida Historic Markers & Sites, by Floyd E. Boone (Gulf Publishing Company 1988)

Florida Historic Stained Glass Survey: Sites of Historic Windows in Public Facilities in the State of Florida, by Robert O. Jones (Florida Members of the Stained Glass Association of America 1995)

Florida's History Through Its Places: Properties in the National Register of Historic Places, by Morton D. Winsberg (Florida State University 1988)

Florida's Past: People and Events That Shaped the State, by Gene M. Burnett (Pineapple Press 1988)

Guide to Florida's Historic Architecture, (University of Florida Press 1989)

History of Volusia County, Florida, by Pleasant Daniel Gold (The E.O. Painter Printing Co. 1927)

History of Winter Park United Methodist Church, by W. Breathitt Gray, Jr. (1970)

Hopes, Dreams, & Promises: A History of Volusia County, Florida, by Michael G. Schene (News-Journal Corporation 1976)

Reflections: West Volusia County, by M.E. Ross et al. (1976)

Saga of Baron Frederick deBary & deBary Hall, Florida, by Edith G. Brooks (Convention Press, Inc. 1968)

Traveling Around Seminole County, (Seminole County Historical Commission 1991)

Volusia: The West Side, by Arthur E. Francke, Jr., Alyce Hockaday Gillingham, and Maxine Carey Turner (West Volusia Historical Society 1986)

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