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Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Ground Up: My Trip to the Dunlawton Plantation and The Ruins of the Sugar Mill

At first, when you walk through the gates of the Dunlawton Plantation in Port Orange, Florida it's as if you've passed through the gates of a mystical land. The birds are singing, flowers and exotic plants are blooming, and footsteps of confederate soldiers can be heard while they make their way to the arching Confederate Oak tree to camp for the night.

Directly behind the ancient tree, you will see the ruins of the 19th century molasses making building. The molasses was stored in barrels in the curing room, while it slowly dripped into the vat from the upper floors. There it was collected and shipped to the Indies for the manufacture of rum.

When you explore the sugar mill ruins you will notice several syrup boiling-kettles and several pieces of horse-drawn cane mill equipment spread out along the trails. You will also make your way done the Hammock Trail, through Bongoland at the back of the plantation.

The History

In 1836, during the Second Seminole War the moskito roarers, a company of Florida militia led by Major Benjamin Putnam, engaged a large tribe of Seminoles pillaging Dunlawton Plantation on the Halifax River. Heavy fighting ensued, but the militia were unable to disperse the Indians. Dunlawton Plantation was burned to the ground leaving only the ruins of the sugar mill and the heavy sugar cane machinery. The Sugar Plantations on the east coast of Florida were eventually destroyed by Seminole raids. The sugar industry never recovered after the war.

The mill was rebuilt in 1846, although it was completely abandoned after the Civil War. The war cost the United States 19 million dollars, which is 4 times the amount Spain paid for the entire state of Florida.

The Hammock Trail on Dunlawton Plantation was a loading area for the export of the sugar. The term "Hammock" was an Indian term that described the trails and the landscape when it belonged solely to the Indians. The land was completely cleared to plant crops, shelters, and roads. In fact, the best of those roads were no more than trails. This is were sugar was loaded for transport using boats until the 1800's when the railroads appeared and the interior of Florida was opened.

Several attempts were made to turn Dunlawton Plantation into a tourist attraction in the 1950's. Doctor Perry Sperber leased the premises from J. Saxon Lloyd in order to construct prehistoric replicas of dinosaurs made out of concrete and wire.

The name "Bongoland " came from the Baboon who was housed on the plantation. There was also a train that was meant to carry visitors around the park, which was reminiscent of the Indian lands before they were taken over. Since the day of the theme park had not yet arrived, the park never opened due to lack of public interest.

Take the Tour

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1 Comment:

Ancient Digger said...

Let me know if the video is not working. I was experience technical issues. Thanks

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