Skip to main content

Florida Friday; where the hell is Centralia?

Back in early 2013 I had just moved to Florida from Arizona and I was really hurting for something interesting to do.  At the time I read about a ghost town located in northwestern Hernando County known as Centralia.   I decided to try to find Centralia and hit some of the rural Hernando County back roads. 


Centralia was a lumber town located roughly at the junction of US Route 19 and  Centralia Road/Hernando County Route 476.  At the time I had heard rumors of a couple sawmill ruins scattered in the woods west of the US 19/Centralia Road junction in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area but didn't have much success in finding anything substantial searching on foot.


The actual entrance to the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area and Centralia is immediately north of Centralia Road behind this gate.


The saw mill in Centralia was in operation from 1910 to 1922 and was named after a City of the same name in Wood County Wisconsin.  Centralia was a company town operated by the Turner Lumber Company and once housed as many as 1,500 people which would have made the community larger than the Hernando County seat of Brooksville.

The 1916 Hernando County Map shows detail regarding the 18 mile narrow gauge rail line between Brooksville and Centralia.  The communities of; Tooke Lake Junction, Wiscon and Tooke Lake all appear as sidings westward towards Centralia.  Wiscon is the only community that has survived to modern times and apparently used to house workers who would ride the rails to the saw mill in Centralia daily.  Tooke Lake Junction still appears on maps of South Brooksville while the community of Tooke Lake still exists as a series of trailer parks and suburban residential bleed over from Spring Hill.

1916 Hernando County Map

The 1917 Hernando County Map below shows an additional siding known as Freeman between Wiscon and Tooke Lake.

1917 Hernando County Map

It appears Freeman was renamed to Norman by 1920.

1920 Hernando County Map

Incidentally the community of Ringgold is shown on the above 1920 map.  Ringgold was located on what is now modern US 98 and Citrus Way/Hernando County Route 491.  I'm to understand that Ringgold mainly served as a wagon stage, this gas station is apparently the only building left.


Despite the log mills in Centralia being closed in 1920 the community still appears on this 1924 State Highway Map with a population of 220.  The Dixie Highway and Old Spanish Trail appear on the map nearby running from Brooksville to Aripeka.

1924 State Highway Map

By 1932 Centralia no longer appears on the Hernando County Map and rail service was cut back to Tooke Lake.

1932 Hernando County Map

By 1936 even the rails which serviced Centralia were gone.  Interestingly US 19 appears to the east multiplexed with US 41 through Brooksville while the modern route is shown as Florida State Road 15.

1936 Western Hernando County Route


Fivay.org has several articles on Centralia.  Apparently some time in 2017 a roadside monument for Centralia was placed at the junction of US 19 and Centralia Road.

Fivay.org on Centrailia

Update 1/24/19:  Upon my return to Florida this past week I was surprised to discover that Centralia is now signed with a historic marker located at the junction of US 19 and Hernando County Route 476/Centralia Road.  The historic marker is doubled sided and tells the story of Centralia.  The historic marker was placed at some point in 2017.  Apparently Centralia was exactly where I thought it was all this time.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Vague Original Southern Terminus of US Route 91 in the Californian Mojave Desert

One of the more intriguing mysteries of the early US Route System in California is where the original south terminus of US Route 91 was intended to be located in the Mojave Desert.  This blog is a little different than my usual behind the wheel fare and explores why US Route 91 ultimately ended at US Route 66 in Daggett instead of Bannock. What ultimately became the US Route System was first discussed during the American Association of State Highway Officials ("AASHO") during their annual 1924 meeting.  Ultimately the AASHO recommended to the Department of Agriculture to work with the States to develop a system of Interstate Highways to replace the many Auto Trails in use.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways was ultimately commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and it's branch agency the Bureau of Public Roads in March of 1925.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways first met in April of 1925 and decided on the new interstate road network would be known a

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395. The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s. Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog? 

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  The Ridge Route is a 44 mile section of highway which was completed in 1915.  The Ridge Route originally stretched from Castaic Junction north over Liebre Summit and Tejon Pass to the tiny community of Grapevine.  In spite of a roadway that once utilized nearly 700 curves the Ridge Route is generally considered far ahead of it's time and one of the first modern highways constructed for automotive use.