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Ghost Town Tuesday; Mannfield, FL and the stairway to Hell

Back in 2015 I went searching the Lecanto Sand Hills for the original Citrus County Seat known as Mannfield.  Unlike Centrailia in Hernando County and Fivay in Pasco County I did find something worth seeing.


Mannfield is located in the Lecanto Sand Hill section of Withlacoochee State Forest somewhat east of the intersection of Citrus County Route 491 and Mansfield Road.

Mannfield was named after Austin Mann and founded in Hernando County in 1884 before Citrus County Split away.  In 1887 Citrus County was split from northern Hernando County while Pasco County was spun off to the south.  Mannfield was selected as the new Citrus County seat due to it being near the county geographic center.  Reportedly Mannfield had as many as 250 people when it was the County Seat.  The town included various businesses one might include at the time, even a sawmill which was common for the area.  In 1891 Citrus County voted to move it's seat to Inverness which set the stage for the decline of Mannfield.  Apparently the County buildings actually physically removed from Mannfield to Inverness.

Citrus County obtained a railroad in 1893 which ended up bypassing Mannfield in favor of Inverness.  Given that Mannfield was somewhat isolated with no real purpose the community continued to decline until the 1930s.  Mannfield was eventually purchased by the Federal Government in pieces between 1936 to 1939 when it was buying up the land that eventually became Withlacoochee State Forest.

To access Mannfield the most conventional way is to walk through the Lecanto Sand Hills.  I parked at the edge of CR 491 at Trail 17 and began to hike to Mannfield.  There is a trail immediately east from Trail 17 which connects with the Florida Trail.  Heading south on the Florida Trail I soon found myself at the long dried up Mannfield Pond.



Mannfield Pond used to be the center of the community and used to be filled with spring fed water.


There are still some scant ruins of former building foundations around Mannfield Pond.




The largest ruin is a derelict stairwell which I've seen a reference to be called the "Stairway to Hell."  I suppose the long abandoned stairway in the woods invokes some provocative imagery but apparently actually part of a root cellar once. 



Apparently Mannfield is sometimes referred to in historical documents as "Mansfield" or even "Manfield," hence the "Mansfield Road" just off of CR 491.   Mannfield can be seen in the center of Citrus County on this 1888 map.


The last time I can find Mannfield displayed on a Citrus County Map is in 1920.

1920 Citrus County Map

The Hernando Sun did an article two years ago on Mannfield.

Hernando Sun on Mannfield


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