My husband Tim and I came down to Ormond Beach, Florida, on Wednesday for the wedding of my nephew Denver Scott Leonard to Kristin Larmer, which took place Thursday evening. This morning we decided to have a little expedition, so we drove up to St. Augustine. Along the way, we saw a sign for Bulow Plantation Ruins, and decided to take a look.
This is a wonderful little gem of a state park, off Old Kings Road nine miles south of Bunnell, which is between Ormond Beach and St. Augustine, of course. The park is what remains from a rather large early 19th century plantation that was started in 1821 by Major Charles Wilhelm Bulow on 4675 acres he had acquired in Seminole territory. He cleared about 2200 acres and planted sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo, but it seems like the main activity on the city was growing and processing sugar cane for shipment to market as sugar and molasses. Bulow died soon after starting the plantation, leaving his young son John in charge. John Bulow was evidently an efficient manager, because the plantation reportedly thrived. In 1831, John J. Audobon stopped at Bulow Plantation while on a bird collecting and painting trip in Florida and noted in his diaries that Bulow was a wealthy planter who provided hospitable treatment to Audobon. Bulow became mixed up in the Seminole Wars as an opponent of the government's decision to remove the Seminoles to the west, but in the end Seminole endings burned the structures on the plantation and Bulow and his family had to leave. He ended up going to Paris, where he died at the young age of 26. The place was restored as a state park in the 1970s.
All the land that was cleared for farming has relapsed to something like its natural state, thick with vegetation, trees and bushes and the like. Enough of the stone sugar mill survives to suggest the scale of the structure that had existed. There is also a surviving remnant of a spring house, the outlines of the plantation house, and remains of the boatslip where materials would be loaded on barges for transport. The plantation road running from the highway to the park site is spectacularly lined with gorgeous trees, and the entire site is beautiful and well maintained, with a park ranger on duty. We thought it was well worth the detour to look the place over. There are picnic tables near the ranger station by the Bulow Creek, and it is possible to rent a canoe or bring small craft to put in the water there.
A nice find — but no t-shirts for sale. (Imagine a park without a gift shop!)