Saturday, January 25, 2014

Little Known Facts

About Cedar Key.

Cedar Key shows signs of human occupation dating back to at least 500 BC. A 28 foot high shell mound in the area produced artifacts dating back to 500 BC in the top ten feet of the mound and a 2000 year old skeleton was found on the key. The area was used by the Seminole Indians, by the Spanish as a water stop for ships returning to Spain and by pirates Captain Kidd and Jean Lafitte.

In 1861 the Florida Railroad was completed just weeks before the start of the Civil War with the rail head in the present day location of Wharf Street.

In the Civil War the Key was an important source of salt for the Confederacy which ended after a raid on the salt operation and rail line by Federal forces in 1862. 150 bushels of salt per day were produced by boiling sea water in sixty huge kettles.

Many of us will recognize the name Eberhard Faber from the pencils we used in school. Faber, a German industrialist, recognized the wood found in the Eastern Red Cedar (actually a sub-species of the Juniper) for it's excellent pencil making qualities and in 1865, built mills in the area. The cut wood was sent first to Germany and later to the Northern States to be manufactured into pencils. In 1896 a category 3 hurricane swept over the area with a ten foot storm surge, wiping out the red cedars and destroying the mills. This, in conjunction with the moving of the railroad to Tampa was the start of a decline in business opportunities in the area.

Since then the area became a fishing center and then after Florida banned commercial net fishing, a tourist area boasting several famous restaurants and with some of the now unemployed fishermen being retrained to operate a farm grown clam operation.


  1. I don't remember the name on my pencils, I think I chewed it off before being able to read it :)

  2. Do remember those pencils and think I can still taste them.