Palatka Florida

FEATURED LISTING: Florida ::: Palatka

Historic Palatka on the St. Johns River is the county seat of Putnam County. This scenic city is the Bass Capital of the World but there is much more to it than that. Palatka has reinvented itself successfully many times. Whatever has affected the city, be they natural or manmade disasters, or changes in economic direction, Palatka has found ways to overcome and flourish.

Palatka is a contraction of an Indian word 'Pilaklikaha' or 'Pilotaikita.' meaning 'cow crossing' or 'cow ford'. In the Spanish era, it was just that. One of the main ranching areas, Palatka was the forging point for the cattle to cross the St. Johns River on their way to the slaughterhouse. By the time the British arrived it was a center for growing oranges, corn, potatoes, beans, squash, melons, and tobacco.

Large oceangoing vessels could not go beyond Palatka on the St. Johns River so it became the place to reach Florida’s interior by road or by small boat down the St. Johns or Ocklawaha Rivers. In the 1840s, Fort Shannon was the local military headquarters whose remnant is oldest building in Palatka today. As shipping declined, Palatka became a major railroad junction and was, in the 1880s, central Florida's transportation center.

With time it grew as a center for lumber and citrus industries and tourists, who arrived by steamboats in winter. Palatka's great fire of 1884 destroyed the entire business district. However, brick buildings replaced the wooden structures and Palatka emerged a more refined city. When the "Great Freezes" of 1894-1895 destroyed Palatka's citrus industry forever, it focused on industrial growth and by 1910 Palatka was the major industrial center it is today.

This reinvention is typified in the local Fred Green Park in the North Historic District. Originally the site of a nineteenth-century railroad turnaround, it later was a lumberyard. Today it is a beautiful park with elms, hollies, maples, live oaks, and magnolias along the perimeter. The city aims to make the park a stop off point for cyclists on the state Rails-to Trails greenway through Palatka and connect the park riverfront boardwalk planned for downtown. Current improvements include playground equipment, new spotlights, new benches, and picnic tables.

Palatka Main Street plans to enhance the vitality and historic charm of downtown Palatka St. Johns River community college in Palatka offers higher education. Do not forget to visit the Putnam Historic Museum. Palatka Golf Club, built in 1925 is available for parties and other functions.

Ravine State Gardens is in a ravine created by water flowing from the sandy ridges of the St. Johns River shore. The formal gardens, famous for its azaleas, and an extensive trail system winding around the ravine, are popular with walkers, bikers, and picnickers. The Roy E. Campbell Civic Center complex features a large covered pavilion, auditorium, and meeting rooms.

Florida's oldest diner, Angel's Dining Car in downtown Palatka offers traditional cheeseburgers with fried mushrooms and an old fashion chocolate ice cream shake. Stay at the Moorings at Crystal Cove, a beautiful riverfront hotel with a view of the sun setting over the St. Johns River and the boats. Its restaurant, Corkey Bell's Seafood and Steak offers traditional Florida food. The Azalea House is an 1878 Queen Anne Victorian Bed & Breakfast in the National Historic District featuring secluded yard with swimming pool, porch swing, and verandas.

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