Sunday, June 8, 2014
275 River Drive
(a/k/a Canal Avenue)
Oak Hill, FL 32759
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Tucked away from anything remotely metropolitan and located in a little city called Oak Hill, this small local park abuts the Intracoastal Waterway. Linked to Mosquito Lagoon, Sunrise Park's beautiful scenery and sandy sections on the water make it a fisherman's dream spot.
My friend, Cynthia, and I weren't there for the fishing, however. The park also includes a boat launch that made for easy kayak put-in and take-out and that's just what we did, spending some four hours on the water in between.
Also at our disposal was a pier (which came in handy for much needed shade), picnic tables (we ate in our yaks), and benches (occupied but not by us). When the day was done, we packed up our cars and drove the 50 feet or so to eat an early dinner at the Goodrich Seafood Restaurant before taking our leave of this sweet paddle spot.
It was a really good day.
The City of Oak Hill is the southernmost city in Southeast Volusia County. The location is rich in early Florida history. It was the site of an Indian village called Surruque el Viejo near el Baradero de Suroc, which was seen on French cartographer Jacque Lemoyne’s map of 1564.
Several English settlers were in the area during the later 1700’s. Seminole Wars chased away northern timber cutters who named their camp Oak Hill.
Following the Territorial Days of Florida, permanent settlers began moving into the area. Statehood seemed to provide stability for organized communities. By the Civil War years, Oak Hill was changing: a salt works was operating, part-time stores were open, and a man named Mitchell had planted the first orange grove.
Following the war, settlers began arriving in the area from many places. Hotels, stores, and a post office were established. Commercially, weather was a crucial factor in area economics, as most people were either citrus growers or commercial fisherman.
Clarence Goodrich was the city's mayor from 1963 to 1989. Mayor Goodrich's term as Mayor spanned 26 years, the longest term any mayor has held in the State of Florida.
Circumstances have had a tremendous impact on citrus and fishing commerce in recent years. Very few citizens are involved with these jobs now. Most commute between their Oak Hill home to New Smyrna or Edgewater, to the Canaveral Seashore Park, or to Kennedy Space Center.
Today, the City of Oak Hill is valiantly working towards improving its economic, environmental, and cultural standing, while preserving the richness of its history and heritage, so that residents can enjoy the changes that progress brings in these new times without losing the precious quality of days gone by.
© April L. Gustetter