Yankeetown 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 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 section of CR 40 has been named after an Elvis Presley movie which was, in part, filmed here in July and August of 1961.
This city is named for Capt. John L. Inglis, who settled on an island a few miles to the southwest of here at the Gulf of Mexico. Inglis ran a string of barges in the Gulf.
This area was a community baseball field in 1930.
In 1957, Eugene Knotts donated a 100 x 150 foot lot for the construction of this church. It was built by Robert Burnham and members of the congregation.
Dr. Andrew Elton Hodges from Dooley County, Georgia, built a six-room summer home of pine lumber on this island, named for a single large hickory tree among the pines, cedars and palms. At the shore are the remnants of a seawall of hand-cut stone blocks constructed by slave labor in 1855.
The home later belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Allen of Inglis. Nearby, with difficulty, one may still find the Hodges family burial plot, surrounded by a wrought iron fence. Included there is the grave of his eight-year-old son, Romulus, who died after mistakenly eating some poisonous nightshade.
At one time on the island, there was also an office building, a school, and living quarters for 150 slaves. The property was later owned by Dewey Allen. It is now just a boat launching ramp reached by a narrow bridge. On the south edge of the island is the Bonita Club, a private fishing club formed in the early 1900s by a group of Ocala businessmen.
Just south of Hickory Island is Jubb's Island, named after George Jubb. After serving in World War I, he brought his family here to homestead the island.
This body of water, named after the cabbage palm, crossed the road about three blocks northeast of here and emptied into the Withlacoochee River at the public boat slip.
Southwest of here at the end of this road and the mouth of the river is a small county park on an island connected to the mainland by a short bridge. It was formerly known as Chambers' Mill Point because John C. Chambers and his family had a sawmill and plantation there since 1875.
The island was later owned by W.H. Boswell of Inverness with A.B. Easily as its caretaker. It was Boswell that A.F. Knotts came to visit in 1919, and Easily served as their guide on hunting and fishing trips.
It was also called Blind Horse Island, and there are two stories as to how it was named. One says that a blind horse powered the river ferry. The other claims that a blind horse fell in the river, landed on the island, and remained there for a time. It was renamed after Capt. John L. Inglis, who built his house on the island.
The Port Inglis Terminal Company was formed to dredge the river and set up a town on the island. It included a custom house, coaling dock, school, church, shipyard, machine shops and commissary. None of these buildings remain.
The Dowda family built the first fish house in Yankeetown here in 1930. It was later operated by the Guffords and by Allan and Helene Caton. The site was known as Bear's Landing, as it was thought to be a favorite crossing and landing place for bears.
In 1922, the road to the Izaak Walton Lodge turned off on the sand hill by the city dump west of Cabbage Slough, headed south, and re-crossed the slough to form what is now 64th St.
This location is known as The Hill, and was the site of a house during the Civil War. Before the development of Yankeetown, what is now Riverside Dr. was a cattle trail.
Before the Civil War, this site was a cotton and sugar plantation. It was known as Sugar Landing, and was later abandoned and reverted to jungle.
A.F. Knotts arrived in this area in 1919 and started a hunting camp. His nephew, Eugene, suggested that he build a lodge to run as a business, so his visitors would not have to stay in his shanty. In 1924, Eugene had the first radio in Yankeetown. It could only be heard with headphones, so one person listened to it and told the rest what he heard.
Knotts hired Frank Norris to design the lodge, which was started with the clearing of the land beginning on November 17, 1923. The lumber for the lodge was transported from Palatka by rail and Model "T" Ford truck.
The lodge opened for guests on November 18, 1924. A filling station was built in front of the lodge during the same year. Knotts publicized the town with "See Yankeetown" signs made from 1 x 5 inch boards. Visitors took them back north with them and erected them along roads in their home towns.
The lodge passed to Eugene and Norma Knotts, who sold it in 1945 to Bob and Thetis Saults.
The town was named "Yankeetown" by Hugh Coleman, the star route mail carrier, after all of the settlers from the north who came to promote real estate and build houses. A.F. Knotts had intended to call the town "Knotts", but the name didn't catch on.
In 1926, the post office on this corner was one of the first to have outdoor boxes. Instead of keys, the lockboxes used combination locks. Later, this was the home of the library and even later, a store.
During the 1920s, this was the location of a tourist camp with a partially covered windbreak.
The first twelve fire hydrants were installed in Yankeetown in 1947-48. This fire house was dedicated on July 1, 1961, and was named after Robert Saults, Sr., who had been active in the fire department.
In the 1920s, there was a hand pump located here in the center of what is now the street. It supplied water for the school and anyone else who wanted to use it.
Yankeetown's first fire alarm system consisted of three large circular saw blades from one of the nearby sawmills, hung on large trees and banged when a fire was spotted. One is still located here, another was between the fire house and the lodge, and the third was on 61st St. Sirens were installed in 1953, making the saw alarms obsolete.
During the 1920s, this road was cut through to the south end of Cabbage Slough. In the early 1930s, it was opened straight through the slough to CR 40. This and CR 40 were the first two paved roads in town.
A social center for the community was located here in 1925. Dances were held there on Saturday nights.
This area was a campground, and then a chicken farm during World War II. In 1946, Harry Swisher fixed it up for trailers he expected would come during the construction of a new unit at the Inglis power plant.
The school located here opened for classes on October 14, 1924. Originally, it was a 20 x 30 foot frame building, and later became part of the manse. Inside were a couple of benches and a table for the students, with a table and chair for the teacher. A second one was built directly behind it in 1926, and the two were connected by a breezeway.
Otha and Mattie Hall lived in Yankeetown for over four decades. Mattie ran a grocery store here. In front of the store in the street was "Hoadley's Pond", a mud hole that developed whenever it rained. It was named after H.H. Hoadley, who frequently complained about it. The problem was solved when Bill Fisher drilled a hole, draining it into an underground cavity.
This house was built in the early 1920s by Ed Chapman, a stonemason from New York. The stone pillars were connected by a fence which kept out wandering cattle. Chapman also constructed the stone fireplaces at the Izaak Walton Lodge and the stone walls along Riverside Dr.
In this area extending about 200 to 300 yards from the river bank, sugar cane and cotton were grown during the Civil War years. The field stone found here was used to construct the walls lining Riverside Dr. from 63rd to 60th Sts.
The A.F. Knotts Land Company donated this lot for the church which was founded in 1936-37 by William Parsons, a retired Presbyterian minister. In February of 1937, a stone church was begun and cost $2,150. It was dedicated on February 2, 1938.
This is the only Presbyterian church in Florida made of field stone, and has been designated by the Presbyterian Historical Society as a member of the Registry of American Presbyterian/Reformed Historical Sites.
The Yankeetown Library opened in January of 1959. Books were donated by various people and organizations, the largest being the Ocala Library. This became a part of the Central Florida Regional Library in 1962.
The present post office opened here in 1965. In 1925, a water pump and 10,000 gallon tank (to supplement a previous 500 gallon tank) were installed here for the use of the town. They were the town's water supply for over 20 years.
This site was used before 1900 for loading logs on barges, or for making up rafts from the timber cut in Gulf Hammock.
In 1926, there was a transformer here on the power line. It furnished electricity to Old Yankeetown for about 20 years.
The water plant was begun in 1947 when equipment from the Dunnellon Air Base was dismantled and moved here, piece by piece. Two new wells were drilled and a 60,000 gallon reservoir was built. The 100,000 gallon steel water tank on the 125-foot tower was added in the 1950s.
After his 1919 visit, A.F. Knotts decided to buy land for the creation of a hunting camp on the river. Knotts had been the attorney for U.S. Steel and the founder and first mayor of Gary, Indiana.
In 1920, A.F. Knotts acquired 40 acres on the river, including the landing known as Honey Bluff. It received its name because a honey bee colony was found in the rocks here. At the time, George Hudson was his nearest neighbor. A trail led into the area about where 50th St. is now.
In less than three weeks, two shanties were constructed for use during the next hunting season. Knotts returned to Indiana in June of 1921, and came back to this area five months later. While he was gone, Will Gillett, Louis P. Kuss and Hobart M. Godfrey had built shanties nearby.
The settlement which grew up at Honey Bluff was known as Old Yankeetown. It was separated from Yankeetown until the 1940s, when the area in between was developed.
A.F. "Pete" Rich came to Yankeetown in 1940 and acquired land here on the river. In 1941, he built three storage tanks, a dock and a terminal for Citizens Oil Company. That independent company had its headquarters in Georgia.
Until June of 1949, Citizens had one of the two telephones in Yankeetown. The other was at the Izaak Walton Lodge.
In 1953, Eugene and Norma Knotts platted River Forest. The first house built was theirs, called "The Glass House". They also platted Riverside Subdivision in 1944 and Riverside Units II and III in 1953 and 1959.
In 1836 during the Second Seminole War, there was a wooden blockhouse manned by troops on the south side of the river at this bend, known as Sykes' Bend.
This school constructed of field stone opened in 1936, replacing the old wooden one. It was built by Ring and Topping, Contractors, of St. Petersburg. Elton L. Jones served as its first principal.
In 1950, classes were limited to the elementary grades, and older students were bused to Dunnellon. In 1956, grades seven and eight returned to Yankeetown. It was dedicated to Eugene T. Knotts on November 8, 1986.
On April 29, 1927, Kelly Runnels recorded a plat of a new settlement named Crackertown. Within three years, a stone church was under construction. When Runnels platted it, the settlement was less than a quarter of a mile east of the corporate limits of Yankeetown. Today, it is part of Inglis.
This boat ramp got its name because for many years cedar timber was brought here and taken by raft to the cedar mills in Crystal River.
The name of this river comes from three Creek Indian words, We = Water, Thalko = Big, Chee = Little, meaning "little big water". Other spellings for it in the 1830s were Ouithlacoochee and Ouithlacouche.
Back Home: A History of Citrus County, Florida, by Hampton Dunn (Citrus County Historical Society, Inc. 1989)
Discover Florida: A Guide to Unique Sites and Sights, by Robert Tolf (Manatee Books 1982)
Guide to the Small and Historic Lodgings of Florida, by Herbert L. Hiller (Pineapple Press, Inc. 1991)
Romantic and Historic Levy County, by Ruth Verrill (Storter Printing Company 1976)
See Yankeetown, by Tom Knotts (The Withlacoochee Press 1970)
Click here for a copy of the trail rules.