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Ghost Town Tuesday; Nichols, FL

A couple years ago I spent a lot of spare time exploring phosphate mining ghost towns in the Bone Valley of Polk County, Florida.  One ghost town in particular called Nichols on Polk County Route 676 west of Mulberry caught my eye due to a relative lack of documentation on ghosttowns.com.






Nichols was created in 1905 during the early phosphate mining boom in the Bone Valley region.  For the time Nichols was unusual since it had company housing in the Nichols Mine site and private residences outside the gate.  Nichols is only about two miles west of Mulberry which probably made it a somewhat reasonable commute even by the wonky standards of the early 20th Century.  Most of the Bone Valley region was relatively remote which made commuting or homesteading impractical which is why there are so many ghost towns in the area.  The company housing section of Nichols was phased out and abandoned by 1950.

The Nichols town site is largely abandoned and could "possibly" be accessible.  When I visited the Nichols Mine there was no gates preventing access nor any signage saying that the former roadways were impassible.  There is an entrance way to the Nichols Mine and company town site which is in a heavy state of disrepair.















The Nichols Mine has various intact buildings and roadways strewn about the site amid large barrels of hay.  What was apparent was that several buildings like the Phosphate refining facility and possibly a commissary were still intact.  I believe that the Nichols Mine had been converted to a ranch but I wasn't sure and it wasn't even really clear if I was welcome which why I turned back towards the gate.












In the public side of Nichols there was still an active Post Office and even an AMC Javalin located on Mount Carmel Church Road and County Route 676.







Along the rails crossing through Nichols it appears that at least partially the former Company Town Site was converted to a rail siding.





Interestingly there was a phosphate refining facility located south of the rails on County Route 676 which was operated by Mosaic.  The refinery facility was still present on Google Images as of 2011 but it has been demolished since.  The open phosphate pit can be seen on the left of the first photo below.









Comments

I grew up in Nichols, FL. I attended the 2-room school house there until the end of the 3rd grade. Grades 1-3 were in one room, grades 4-6 were in another. We even had a library and an AV room. We all rode our bikes home for lunch. It was idyllic. I have photos that I will send along.

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