A Trip To Crystal River

It is some years since we had a look at Crystal River. Then it had barely emerged from a country village and the roads were extremely sandy. As you alight from the train at the depot, which is at the crossing of the railroad and the main street of the town your eye is greeted with a fine hard road that extends not only thro’ the main portion of the town, but across twenty miles of country to the east to Inverness, the shire town of the county. Another noticeable feature is the clearing of the trees and underbrush from around the depot, which gives a good view of a portion of the business part of town to the west and to the east some of the most desirable homes to be seen in any community in the state no matter what its population may be. 

Notably among the popular residences of the town is that of Col. Nic Barco, the pioneer citizen of the place who went there forty years or more ago when a mere lad and a cow trail scarcely marked the approach to the Crystal River. Opposite is Dr. Bennet’s fine building , now known as the Strathcona Inn and splendidly conducted by Mrs. Rushton and her sisters, Mrs. Perry and the Misses Katie and Rachel McIntosh, who seem to have been born for that business, so well that they fit in it and meet the requirements of the situation in a model and ideal hostelry, where real comfort awaits you. The cuisine is splendid and the serving the same, being personally looked after by those excellent ladies, who not only now how to run a hotel, but also have the rare gift and intelligence to entertain their guests on the broad verandas.

Then a little further on are the splendid homes of R. J. Knight, Will Knight, C. E. Herrick, the slightly school building and the Presbyterian church. As you pass down main street you pass in review the Willis home, a pioneer settler, the New York department Store of W. D. Edwards & Co., the general merchandise and grocery stores of the Messrs. Sparkman, S. W. Nute and W. S. and Herman Miller, R. D. Smith and others, whose store rooms and varied and complete stocks of goods will compare with the best of towns of 10,000 inhabitants and as you look into them and meet their successful and pleasant proprietors, you here the remark which is general, “Oh, we have the goods: we don’t have to go to Ocala to supply our wants as we once did.” And this is true, for in the years past no community or town came oftener to the Brick City, when Mann and Finch of the old S. S. O. & G. railroad held out all kinds of inducements in low rates and plenty of time for those people to come to the Brick City and spend their spare change and there was a plenty of wet and dry goods in the metropolis of Marion.” But we must not forget the Crystal River News, now presided over by S. B. Clark, an attorney and late editor of the Hummer and the real live wire, now consolidated with the News and Bert Hoy. It is a sheet that every man for miles around should subscribe for and pay his subscription and every man; woman and child in that section should read it. A pleasant part of our stroll was a call at Paul Boellert’s cool drink stand and ice cream emporium. Everything was neat and inviting and nothing more so than sweet, smiling Miss Lovie Cooper, who is the drawing part of that popular resort. 

We must mention the handsome store of C. A. Miller, also postmaster of the place, which he conducts for the Oxford Crate Co., located in the new block with the bank next door. The building and bank would be a credit to any town of 100,000 people. Now, don’t smile and say we are over enthusiastic. Take a look at the handsome and commodious two-story building, step into the bank and examine its furnishings, consisting of mahogany and marble partitions and counters and complete in all its details, with all the up-to-date appliances of a first-class bank, the furnishings alone costing the neat sum of $5000 and our word for it, we have simply stated the facts. Of this admirably conducted financial institution C. E. Herrick is president and A. S. King cashier and since its inauguration it has done a very successful business, paying its stockholders 10 per cent and adding neat sums to its surplus account. 

A noticeable feature of the town is its creditable Baptist churches for white and black alike, the latter the most pretentious. The industrial institutions of Crystal River are its large sawmill, temporarily resting, owing to the depression of the lumber market, the output of which when in operation goes to Cuba via, the Crystal River water route, as sailing vessels come alongside the docks and receive their cargo, owing to Congressman Sparkman’s ability to get an appropriation to deepen the harbors and rivers in his district. Next comes the Oxford Crate Company, engineered by Messrs. Baum and Robertson, two excellent men of business and who employ a large force of men, over 100, and who are busy the year round. Beyond ids the Dixon cedar mill, which for nearly half a century has plied their trade there in denuding the cedar forests of that section, sawing the logs into certain lengths and sending them to Jersey City, N. Y., here they are converted into the famous lead pencils of the land, whose reputation is world wide, carrying the name of the Dixon Pencil Co. around the globe. Over this famous establishment C. E. Herrick presides. He started in as a feeder when a lad and has really grown up in the business and touched all the rounds of the latter of success until now he stands upon the topmost pinnacle and from that commanding height overlooks and sees that every part works evenly and smoothly and that every person in his employ, an average of 105, does his or her duty. They are a good looking company, well fed and well paid and evidently look on Crystal River as their abiding place on earth. Mr. Herrick, or “Cliff” Herrick, as all of his friends and intimates call him, when he sleeps, dreams dreams, and has been doing this for years and as the earth revolves in his dreams he has visions and in them come ideas of improvement, which in his waking moments he works out applies to the perfecting of the plant, laborsaving devices being his hobby. The smallest is the “automatic cut off,” run by a man’s foot and does the work of several dozen hands in assorting cedar strips, and the largest the “over-head lift’ ninety feet high, operated on a circular track, costing $20,000, but doing the work of a company of men. It takes the cedar logs as they are brought into the river and at the landing picks them up with almost human instincts, lifts them up and piles them in great big piles twenty-five feet high. It works on the same principle as a phosphate dredge shovel. The inventor of this labor saving machine is M. H. Mann, an employee in the architectural building department of McIver & MacKay, Ocala, and which firm erected the device and it took a year to complete the same. It has been in operation about four months and works wonders. It has 800 feet of cable, and a telephone signal service. Of course, we could not have seen these works but for the kind permission of Mr. Herrick, through his representatives, Messrs. J. B. Clark and Joe Williams, who run the office part of the business and to them and Col. Barco, who secured the permit, we return thanks. Mr. Herrick’s success is an example for other youths to follow.  Attention to business and the interests of the employers ever brings its promotion and reward. It is this principle in the life of that excellent citizen that has placed his on easy street, with a handsome pair of blacks to hold the ribbons over.

We strolled across to the Mrs. Mary Williams-Allen store, which is a part of the mill in supplying its help with about everything that a mortal could desire. It is ably conducted by Mr. Gilmore Williams, manager, and H. W. Edwards, assistant manager. Adjoining the store building is a fine hotel building known as the Dixon House and admirably preceded over by Miss Eunice Williams and enjoys a well deserved patronage, being first class in every particular. In taking a retrospect, we remember the ice factory of J. B. Cutler, so well known in the railroad world, who supplies the fish and oyster trade of Crystal River with all the ice needed for its large shipments of those goods. Crystal River is noted far and wide as the best fish and oyster supply town in the state. J. E. Stephens, a Marion county boy, is manager of one of the big oyster and fish houses of the place. J. K. Eubanks is the enterprising liveryman and hard road builder of the place. Strange to say we ascertained that even the cedar sawdust is utilized and has become an article of commerce and the sawdust is sent to big northern cities where it is used by big spice houses to give a pleasant odor to their spices. The city hall is just across the track from the depot and is the property of Col. Nic Barco, in the second story of which he has his office and being connected by telephone to all important points does his promoting from there. 

Source: Ocala Evening Star: 7-9-1908

Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers 

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