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Hernando/Citrus County 491 in the Lecanto Sand Hills and the return to Mannfield ghost town

This past week I made a return trip to Central Florida.  That being the case I wanted to revisit some of the places I enjoyed when I was a Florida resident.  I made my way up US Route 98 in Brooksville towards Hernando/Citrus County Road 491 in the Lecanto Sand Hills.  The first stop I had in mind was Withacoochee State Forest and the ghost town Mannfield.


Hernando/Citrus County Road 491 is an approximately 36.5 mile County Highway.  Hernando County Road 491 begins at Hernando County Road 484 near the Spring Hill Cemetery at Fort Dade Avenue and travels generally northward terminating at Florida State Road 200 in Citrus County.

As stated above I turned onto CR 491 northward from US 98 near a small community in Hernando County known as Ringgold.



CR 491 from US 98 13 miles north to FL 44 is known as the Lecanto Highway.  Most of the land east of CR 491 between US 98 and FL 44 is part of the Citrus Wildlife Management Area of Withlacoochee State Forest.



The Lecanto Sand Hills has a relatively high elevation (for Florida) which means CR 491 northward has several large hills.  Approaching Stage Coach Trail CR 491 northbound enters Citrus County.








CR 491 intersects CR 480 upon entering Citrus County.  CR 480 is carried by Stage Coach Trail east of CR 491 and Oak Park Boulevard west of it.


As CR 491 meets a cross street with Lone Court there is parking for Trail #22 on the east side of the highway.


 

Trail #22 is an easy route eastward to the Dames Cave.













The Dames Cave essentially is a collapsed sink hole that appeared to be approximately 15 feet deep.  There was a way down into the Dames Cave but there was a steel cable in the way which insinuated that it probably wasn't something that was meant for access.




Continuing northward from Trail #22 the route of CR 491 intersects CR 482 at Cardinal Street.




North of CR 482 the route of CR 491 intersects Mansfield Street which is the only remaining evidence that the former Citrus County Seat of Mannfield was once directly to the east.


At Noble Street CR 491 has parking for Trail #17 which is part of the route to Mannfield.




Immediately east of Trail #17 there is an unnumbered trail heading directly eastward to the Florida Trail.









At the fork below I headed southward on the Florida Trail towards Mannfield.


The Florida Trail southward is fairly filled with sand and termite mounds but it wasn't long before I found myself in the remains of Mannfield.






My last visit to Mannfield was back in 2015.  In a previous Ghost Town Tuesday I wrote a blog about the history of the community.

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

Not much in Mannfield had changed since 2015, some of the remaining building foundations were within sight of the Florida Trail.



Mannfield Pond was still high and dry despite many of the local waterways being close to flooding over.




I had a difficult time finding "the stairway to Hell" given it was largely obscured by plant growth from the Florida Trail.


Returning to CR 491 I continued northward into Lecanto.







At FL 44 in Lecanto I turned west towards Homosassa.



On a historic note CR 491 was previously a State Road of the same number.  I'm unsure of when FL 491 was relinquished to County Level maintenance but it does appear under State control as late as 1988 on local topographical maps of Lecanto.  The 1964 State Road map below shows FL 491 when it was under state maintenance.

1964 Florida State Road Map


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