CEDAR KEY HISTORY

CEDAR KEY PRESENT

Cedar key has quite a bit of history. Remember now Cedar key is not in the keys it is on the curve of the panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico. It is made up of a number of small isles, just off shore, and they are not very big. The maps below show how it is layed out. There is only one main road coming in from the mainland and you have to travel twenty-five miles, from the nearest large crossroad to get here. The drive is basically over swamp areas, with nothing around.

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This map shows all of Cedar key as it is today. The thick black line indicates the only road in from the mainland.  Where it ends basically is what the picture below shows. This is where all the restaurants and shops are. Plus the pier and all that , the rest of the isle above and left of it are residential areas, where homes are.

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This shows the tourist area and the pier,. Plus all the condo’s and villa’s that are around. Only in the left side loop area is where the shops and restaurants are. If you live here you are lower middle class. Most houses are from the 50’s to 60’s vintage, some earlier. There is one school, one post office, one small grocery store, one car mechanic and no gas stations here. Plus there is not a doctor, dentist or hospital, or emergency room here. No McDonald’s, burger King or any fast food places at all. There is a lot of commercial fishing here, so that’s what you do if you live here. Mostly Clamming and shrimp fishing now. The water around here is not very deep so it is good for that type of fishing. You have to go thirty miles out in the gulf to get to water over twenty feet deep. The boats they use are called Bird Dog Boats, they have an open back ,with the engine up front and the controls in the very front. Nets are lowered in the water from the back as they move along and pick up the schrimp. Clamming is pretty big here, they start out here in the main building in a petri dish as they grow they separate and are moved into tanks, they then are moved to the clam beds in the surrounding waters to grow to maturity, then scooped up with a big bucket type machine. Only one restaurant ,which is close to us in Sumner has fresh fish ,all the rest get it shipped in from the main land, go figure.

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It is a pretty neat place but after a few weeks , time to go. We have met people who stay in the condo’s for three to four months here, we could not do that. The census of 2014 showed 700 permanent residents here. Some say only 300 people. When snowbirds come down for the winter, it can double or triple.

CEDAR KEY THE PAST.

Cedar key is one of the oldest ports in the state of Florida. While not very deep, it was a gres area to have a port. Mainly because it it is near the Suwannee river where it enters the gulf. The original Cedar key was actually on a little isle further out in the gulf, about a mile from present days. Remember the only way here back in the early 1800’s was by boat and the Suwannee river was used to get to the interior of Florida. Anyway back in 1836 the U. S. Army put a supply depot on Atsena Otie key as it was called then. From there the Army could wage war against the seminole indians. In 1843 there was a very bad hurricane which totally destroyed the area. A guy by the name of Steele got permits to buy the old depot and acreage. So he turned it into a residential and commercial area. This was the founding of Cedar key on what was then Atsena Otie key. It flourished, here there came stores, hotelss, steamships, visitors, entertainers, saw milling, fishing oystering, boat building and most of all, milling of cedar logs to slats so they could be shipped up north by boats, for pencil making. Yep all the cedar pencils you have ever seen came from here. As the only way here was by baot the railroad finally came in the later part of 1860, the last twenty miles built over the swamp. When the civil war came the union army came and occupied the cedar key area with a navy blockade and was union held for the entire war. After the war the town was in its hayday, with industry i mentioned above. In 1896 a hurricane came and heavily damaged the entire key. All the residents and business were moved to present dasy Cedar key. The town was rebult and renamed Cedar Key from then on. Also from 1860 to 1929 there was only the train to get you to and from here. No roads of any kind until 1929 , when one was built again down through the swamps to get here. The railroad closed in 1933 and from that time on the road is the only way in or out. So there you have it. Nice place to visit but would not like to live here past or present.

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