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2017 Southeast Trip Part 9; Bridges, Ferries, National Monuments, Beaches, Bricks, and Ghost Towns

The title of this blog may sound like a mouthful, but really it is pretty indicative of how much I did returning to the Tampa Area from St. George.






Leaving St. George I jumped onto I-95 south and crossed the Georgia State Line.





I had last been on this particular stretch of I-95 back in the summer of 2014.  The Georgia Welcome Center/Rest Area had received some substantial upgrades in the following years with a new building.


There isn't much to I-95 in Georgia.  The road is six lanes the entirety through the state and really it pretty well designed.  There are several US Route junctions along with I-16 in Savannah, really it just kind of there as the fastest way to Florida.  After 112 miles on I-95 I reached the Florida State Line.


The Florida Welcome Center on I-95 is substantially older than the one in Georgia.  I don't recall seeing "overnight security" which is a change from the times when everyone in Florida thought you'd be murdered at Florida rest areas.





My destination for lunch was out along the coast but I wanted to see downtown Jacksonville and stayed on I-95.






After crossing the St. Johns River I pulled off of I-95 onto San Marco Boulevard.





My first destination was the Jacksonville South Bank Riverwalk which was just to the north on San Marco Boulevard. 


Friendship Park and the accompanying fountain were both dedicated along the South Bank River Walk back in 2010.






Of course the view from the River Walk can't be beat looking north over the St. Johns towards downtown Jacksonville.  From the left the Acosta Bridge carrying FL 13 can be seen along with the Alsop Bridge (better known as the Main Street Bridge) carrying US 1/90 on the right.  The Acosta Bridge opened back in 1994 while the Main Street Bridge opened in 1941.




 Friendship Park had a nice historic plaque about the British Kings Road in pre-American Florida.




After leaving the River Walk I took Riverplace Boulevard over to Main Street and crossed the St. Johns River on the Main Street Bridge.  I took US 1/17/90 north to FL 115 on Union Street.




I took FL 115 over the St. Johns River on the Matthews Bridge.  The Matthews Bridge was finished back in 1953.




FL 10 is generally co-signed with US 90 but is a stand alone route in east Jacksonville.  I turned off FL 115 onto FL 113 and took north to FL 116 which I then took east towards the Village of Mayport.






After meeting FL A1A I turned north to the Mayport Ferry.





The Mayport Ferry is almost a 1 mile crossing of the St. John River to St. George Island about 2.5 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean.  The Mayport Ferry has been in operation since 1874 and had yet to be a replaced with the next closest crossing of the St. Johns at I-295.  The village of Mayport is a small strip of land next to Naval Station Mayport which has been in operation since World War II.  There are plenty of abandoned structures and ruins from the heyday of the ferry in addition to military base.






My lunch destination was further down A1A, I decided to stay along the coast the full 36 miles to St. Augustine.






Of course the first major junction southbound on A1A from the Mayport Ferry is FL 116.





A1A junctions FL 101 at Mayport Road which is routed north to the Main Gate of Naval Station Mayport.




A1A southbound next junctions FL 10 at Atlantic Boulevard in Atlantic Beach.  A1A jogs east with FL 10 towards the Atlantic Ocean and becomes 3rd Street in Neptune Beach.  The communities along A1A are among the few that aren't in Duval County that aren't part of the consolidated Jacksonville.








A1A junctions US 90 on Beach Boulevard along with FL 202 in Jacksonville Beach.






FL A1A south crosses into St. Johns County and junctions CR 210 in Ponte Verda Beach.





A1A finally drops to a two-lane road along the ocean at the southern terminus of CR 203.






A1A was undergoing a repaving project after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  Most of the homes along the Atlantic had already been repaired or knocked down but the new asphalt was obvious due to the difference in color.


Of course that isn't to say there wasn't damaged structures that weren't obvious.





A1A utilizes the Usina Bridge to cross the Tolomato River entering St. Augustine.








A1A turns south towards downtown St. Augustine on San Marco Boulevard which is also signed as US 1 Business.  My next destination was Castillo de San Marco National Monument.







Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States having been completed by the Spanish along Mantazas Bay in 1695.  Castillo de San Marcos became a National Monument back in 1924.  The overlook of Mantazas Bay from Castillo de San Marcos is wide with views of the Usina Bridge to the north and the 1927 Bridge of Lions to the South.











As for St. Augustine it was founded all the way back in 1565 by the Spanish and is the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States.   The city is the County Seat of St. John's County and has about 14,000 residents today.





Leaving St. Augustine I took US 1 south into Flagler County to CR 13.





CR 13 heads north to the community of Espanola and is an old alignment of the East Dixie Highway.  CR 205 is a relatively normal road but the real fun is north on CR 13.






CR 13 is signed as Old Dixie Highway and narrows down fast northbound out of Espanola.  The weight limit is only 7,000 pounds.






The surface of CR 13 drops to brick at this sign northward.





But none of the road is really well maintained hence the "Travel at Own Risk" placard.





This particular section of the Dixie Highway is known as the Old Brick Road.  The Old Brick Road was apparently built back in 1916 and really hasn't changed much since.  Much of the Old Brick Road was probably the modern approximation of a one lane road with concrete shoulders.  Unlike much of the rest of the Dixie Highway the Old Brick Road was bypassed by US 1 to the east which passed through Bunnell.  There is a similar Dixie Highway connector Brick Road near Loughman and I already talked about the dirt segment in Pasco County.










Much of getting back to Brooksville was through the back roads.  I backtracked to US 1 and took it south to FL 11.





I turned west on FL 40 towards Ocala National Forest.





Rather than continuing to FL 19 I took a southwest short cut on Lake County Route 445A.  The FL 19 shield at CR 445A looked pretty haggard and beat up.






I followed FL 19 southbound to US 441 north/FL 44 west.





I stayed on FL 44 and took US 27 south to Lake County Route 33.  Some locations in Lake County still show CR 33 as a State Road, I believe it was just relinquished fairly recently.  From CR 33 I took another turn southwest on CR 48.






In Sumter County I made a stop at the junction of CR 48 and CR 469 in Center Hill to see what had become of the wreckage of Market Street.


Some time around 1840 Center Hill was settled during the Second Seminole War.  Center Hill is an incorporated city and was once a major center of agriculture commerce.  Center Hill was on the Coleman to Auburndale Railroad which was in operation from the 1920s to the late 1980s.  Market Street ran in a pair of one-way streets with a set of connect train tracks running in what is now a city green.  By the 1970s Center Hill was almost entirely abandoned which is why Market Street is so run down.  Gradually the buildings have been falling down over the years but it looks like the city is finally taking action to remove what is left.  Back in 2014 there was far more buildings left on Market Street, kind of sad to see what could be a historic district treated so poorly.










After leaving Center Hill I stayed on CR 48 to Bushnell and took CR 476 to Nobleton in Hernando County.




In Nobleton I turned south on Nobleton-Croom Road which was part of FL 39 into Withlacoochee State Forest.  This particular road follows the Withlacoochee River south to Croom Road and was just paved in 2014. 







I turned west on Croom Road which has been designated as CR 480.  Croom Road wasn't paved in Withlacoochee State Forest until 2014 much like Nobleton-Croom Road.  Croom Road is another Brooksville Ridge route and thus is hilly much like the roads I covered in Hernando County to the south.  Croom Road ends at US 41 near the north end of Brooksville where I closed out the day.











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