A Day In……
Monday, January 6, 2020
So, there we were, tooling along Highway 192 in Central Florida. It’s time for lunch and we’re only a few miles away from the city of St. Cloud. This is a place whose motto is “Celebrating Small Town Life.” Who could resist? We figured St. Cloud was a city we should explore; and that’s exactly what we did!
We found Crabby Bill’s Seafood Restaurant on the south shore of East Lake Tohopekaliga. It’s located in the Lakefront Park Marina with stunning views of both the lake and marina. The prices are quite reasonable: glass of house Pinot Grigio, $3; $5 for Reef DonKey beer, on draft; Garlic Mussels, $10.99; Andouille Po’Boy, $12.99.
While sipping our libations and awaiting the entrées, we did a little research on the area. Known as Los Musquitos since the early 1500s, this area became Mosquito County when Spain, no longer willing to send settlers or garrisons to the territory, ceded control of the Florida Territory to the United States with the Transcontinental (Adams-Onis) Treaty of 1819. At the time, growing sugar cane was a major Florida industry. Sugar was king long before cattle or citrus. Sugar cane grew well in Florida’s sandy soil. Huge plantations spread across Central Florida all along the navigable St. John’s River. However, after the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), the population of settlers was decimated. By 1844, Mosquito County ceased to exist (today, this is Osceola County.) Co-incidentally, that same year Hamilton Disston was born. The son of a wealthy Philadelphia industrialist, Hamilton grew up working in his father’s saw manufacturing plant; he served in the Union Army during the civil War; and in 1881, he purchased four million acres of Florida land. His plan was to drain the swamp. He dug canals, established the St. Cloud Sugarcane Plantation and founded the Sugar Belt Railway to carry his product to market. The great freeze of 1894-95 ruined the plantation. Disston returned to Philadelphia and died in 1896.
The land remained fallow until 1909 when the Seminole Land & Investment Company acquired 35,000 acres to establish a colony for Grand Army of the Republic veterans. The southern shore of East Lake Tohopekaliga was chosen for the settlement because it suited the criteria for “health, climate and productiveness of the soil.” And that explains why St. Cloud is nicknamed “The Soldier City.”
St.Cloud was founded on April 16, 1909. It’s a quaint community with some awesome murals and a super self-guided walking tour. Here are the photos:
This was a thoroughly satisfying afternoon excursion!!!