Citrus Park Historical Trail - not yet proofread
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 order 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.
This land was divided in 1913 by the North Tampa Land Company, lying between Rocky Creek to the east and the school to the west. They called the new town Citrus Park.
This land was the site of baseball games in the 1920s and 1930s, with the Citrus Park team hosting Tampa and Lutz. The park land was purchased in 1962 and the ballfields were built in 1963.
In 1958-59, a volunteer fire department was formed to take over the fire-fighting responsibilities from the Florida Forest Service. The organizers were Herb Mason and Bill Hiller. Citrus Park resident James Coker raised $1,300 to buy a 1943 fire truck. Wendell Thomas became the first fire chief.
At first, the department stored its equipment at nearby homes. They then acquired a vacant home just south of Fox's Corner. Later, Hillsborough County purchased this land and built the fire house.
In 1910-11, the tracks of the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad were laid here, parallel to the 40 acres Elaja Spivey had bought in 1893. Here, at the southwest corner of his property, he provided the railroad with land on which to erect a depot. It constructed a small building, a bench for waiting passengers, a platform for freight, and a spur track. This stop became known as Spivey.
This road is named after state senator Raymond Sheldon, who owned a great deal of land in this area.
The Ehrlich family lived several blocks to the east of here during the 1920s. E.E. Ehrlich was an inventor, and there is a story about his receiving $40,000 from the sale of the patent rights to one of his inventions. The day after he deposited the money in a bank in downtown Tampa, the bank closed and Ehrlich never got any of his money back.
The North Tampa Land Company had a store built here in 1911 by Messrs. Young and Morrow, and in 1916 it became the home of the Citrus Park Mercantile Company. That company was founded by George Broadhurst, E.T. Young, and Charles H. Brown, an official of the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad. The store had a spur track and was a stop for the railroad.
The store was sold to Mr. Stevenson, who sold it to Mr. Becker, who sold it to be used as the general merchandise store of Elaja J. Spivey, who also served as the postmaster. The building had a loading platform extending out to the railroad spur track. Just to the north were the Lykes Brothers cattle branding and holding pens.
Here was located a two-story building containing a store, built by Elaja J. Spivey in 1924. This area became known as Spivey's Corner. He ran the store until about 1928, when it was rented to Phil Glen and then to Ed Bostick. Spivey's son operated it until 1937, then his widow ran it until 1950, when she sold it to Darrell McVay. After he died, his widow sold it to Kenneth Smith, and shortly thereafter it was torn down.
The Citrus Park Baptist Mission was organized under the direction of the Odessa Baptist Church, and held its first Sunday school class on November 4, 1945. This land was bought in January of 1946.
The mission became an independent church with 64 members on February 1, 1948, and its first building was erected here. The present sanctuary was built in 1959, and the two-story educational building was erected in 1968.
This road is named for L.E. Mobley, a son of William L. Mobley and his first wife, Sophonia Mobley. He and his family lived in a two-story wood frame house on the south side of the road near Lake Maurine Dr.
This shopping center began in the 1950s as a small establishment in the front part of a cement block house. It was bought by Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Hanlon, who renovated it and turned it into a grocery store. Vernon Hanlon and Jim Matheny formed M & H Enterprises and developed this area into The Village Shopping Center.
The single store grew to include Townes Dry Cleaners, The Village Beauty mart, and Earnie Villanueva's barber shop. A postal station was opened and run by Dora Kingery and her sister, Virginia Langlois, who also ran the Beauty Mart. A new section was added to the north to house Myer's Market, which later became Donald's Market, and the Village Restaurant. The original grocery store became The Country Store, specializing in ladies' clothing and gifts.
Then the center expanded to the south, adding a hardware store and a service station operated by the Hanlons. Several other businesses have been located here, including a carpet service, a craft shop, an insurance agency, a florist, a drug store, and a chiropractor.
Developer A.J. Simms laid out this area as a community for blacks, and the first settler in it was 33-year-old Rev. Charles Walker. He arrived in 1923, and the area was called Walker Heights. Rev. Walker drove the first school bus here in the mid-1920s.
The second settler here was coal burner Frank Peterson, and Simms named the main road through the development after him.
Simms built a large home in a citrus grove in the 1930s, overlooking Lake Keystone (formerly called Lake Distress). The road looped around his home, passing between it and the lake, and it was named Simms Rd. after him.
During the 1920s, there was a dairy on this road, owned by Horace Copeland. His cattle roamed free on the land owned by Capt. Frederich H. Thompson.
Near here was the turpentine still owned by Messrs. Biggam and Hall in the 1910s.
This congregation's first church building was erected not far from the present site in 1868. William L. Mobley, a Baptist, had the church built from logs. His wife, Cornelia Ann, was a Methodist. The church also served as a school before it burned down.
The next church was constructed of lumber which came from Mobley's sawmill. It was used until 1914, when a new sanctuary was erected. Sunday school classrooms were added in 1948, made out of government surplus barracks. Additional rooms were added between the church and the barracks in 1952. The present sanctuary was built in 1971. Keystone Cemetery is located nearby.
A number of settlers from Hungary attempted to make this their home, initially living in tents. They were unsuccessful at finding employment, and all but the Mogyorosy family moved away from the area. This later became the Thompson Grove.
To the northwest on this road was the old Keystone School, built in 1891 on land that later became a boy scout camp for the Gulf Ridge Council. The last teacher there was J.B. Jonson, who stayed until the school closed.
This road was named after Jack Crawley, the owner of a small grocery store south of Brooker Creek on the east side of Gunn Hwy.
This road is named for William L. Mobley, who moved from North Carolina in 1860 with his wife, Cornelia Ann, and their family and slaves. At first, he located near the Gulf of Mexico, but feared the slaves would escape across the water. He then moved inland to this area. When the slaves were freed, he gave them land along this road east of Gunn Hwy.
The Keystone United Methodist Church had its beginning in Mobley's home. Settlers would come to the house when circuit riders stopped by.
In about 1909, the area a little to the north of here in the vicinity of Tarpon Springs Rd. was subdivided into ten-acre lots known as the Keystone Park Colony. Advertisements were placed in the Saturday Evening Post, offering the land for $25 per acre.
Several sections of land in the Keystone Park Townsite were owned by the Michigan Trust Company. People from Michigan came down to Florida to work in the sawmills and buy land. In their honor, Michigan Ave. was named.
In about 1944, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Fox bought land on N. Mobley Rd., fronting on Rock Lake, for retirement after he had worked as a dispatcher for Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Five years later, they bought five acres at this corner for $1,500 and built a concrete block store which opened in September of 1949.
In a short time, Fox's Corner became a popular meeting place as well as a store. Square dances were held here. People came to cash their checks or use the store's scale to weigh the fish they caught in nearby lakes. They came to see Big Tom, the 50-pound turkey who lived in back of the store. The store closed in 1974 and the new owner received permission to continue using the name of "Fox's Corner".
To the north of here was located the small community of Lake Fern. A small wooden train depot along Gunn Hwy. about 50 feet north of Tarpon Springs Rd. provided a stopping place for the route which came from the south from Tarpon Junction and Cosme, and continued north and west to Gulf Pine, Keystone, Kimbrough, Lake Villa and Tarpon Springs.
In 1915, William Wood Saylor and his wife, Bertha J. Saylor, moved there from Pennsylvania and built their home. In 1939, they bought a small store from Jimmy and Gracie Inglis and moved it in 1941 into a building adjacent to their home. It was called Lake Fern Station.
It sold bread, milk, eggs, canned goods, cigarettes, cigars, ice cream, candy and cold drinks. Outside were gasoline pumps. When Mrs. Saylor retired in 1967, the store closed. The building later housed a small motor repair and fix-it shop. It was refurbished in 1977 for use as a real estate office.
On the southwest corner of this road and the railroad tracks was located the Cosme railroad depot. The Atlantic Coast Line tracks were built in 1883, extending from Sanford to St. Petersburg. They were taken over in 1910 by the Tampa Gulf Coast Railway, a subsidiary of Seaboard. The tracks were taken up in 1960.
In the 1910s and 1920s, turpentine was an important industry in this region, and the turpentine was stored in tanks adjacent to the railroad station. One of the last turpentine companies was liquidated after its owner died in 1933. On the northwest corner was a packing house built in 1922 and owned by Citrus Exchange.
They sat on Cosme Rd., which is named for a member of the Hungarian Colony, who was probably an employee at the packing house.
Harry and Phyllis Binder owned a grove on the southwest side of Lake Pretty in the 1950s and 1960s, and operated Handon Grove. On Gunn Hwy., they had a fruit stand for several years. This road is named after them.
This road is named after a local commissioner, John T. Gunn. It began as a sand road with two ruts, and was built with convict labor in the 1920s. It was maintained by the people who lived along it. Paving was added in the 1930s while Gunn was one of the commissioners. It was resurfaced and widened by four feet in 1976.
Race Track Rd., before the construction of the Tampa Bay Downs race track, was known as Tampa Shores Rd. and Oldsmar Rd.
This portion of Paglen Rd. used to be known as Hixon Rd., named after Curtis Hixon, who served as mayor of Tampa. Many years ago, there was a sawmill located at the end of this road.
This bank was chartered as Citrus Park Bank by the State of Florida in 1974, and opened for business on April 11, 1975, in a trailer at this site. Its permanent brick building opened on July 19, 1976.
The stock of the bank was owned by the residents of the area. The bank was involved in the establishment of the library and has been active with the little league, school groups, and other charitable organizations.
This two-story school was built in 1911 by the North Tampa Land Company, and served grades one through 12, all in one room. When the Keystone School on Boy Scout Rd. closed, many of the students and teachers transferred to this school. At that time, the room was enlarged and a porch was added.
It was partitioned into two rooms in 1924 and was moved in 1926-27 to make room for a new brick school. The 1911 building was then used as a community center. It was converted into a lunch room in 1946 and continued in that capacity until 1959, when it was again moved to make room for classrooms. In 1964, it was refurbished as a classroom for the 4th grade.
This building was the meeting place of the Citrus Park Assembly of God from 1967 until 1969, when they completed a church on Del Valle Rd.
The building was restored as a historic site in 1970, and was moved once more at the end of 1970. It is believed to be the oldest standing school building in Hillsborough County.
This brick school opened in 1929 with three rooms, each with one teacher and two grades. It was air conditioned in 1973-76 with equipment purchased by the PTA.
There used to be a small grocery store there, owned by Bertie Spivey. Spivey Rd. is named after him.
History of Keystone, Odessa, and Citrus Park, by Henry J. Binder (Keystone Odessa Citrus Park Historical Society 1979)
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