Beautiful Crystal River...1908 Profile

We have had many dear friends living in Crystal River, especially in the long ago, and have had many invitations to visit there, but first one thing and another prevented and all the while,  time has been fleeting and the shadows lengthening across “the great divide,” so when we received an invitation to attend the barbecue and picnic there on the 30th, we dropped anchor at the end of the busiest week of the busiest month of the year (to us) and went down nolens volens and was amply rewarded for doing so.

We were told that Crystal River was a charming spot and possessed wonderful possibilities and we found that these statements of the enthusiasts were not overdrawn. Were it possible to duplicate a wizard for the west coast the same as the east coast and again one for the middle, Florida indeed could be made a fairyland.

Senator David L. Yulee, and others as noteworthy, early saw the possibilities of the west coast, but unfortunately untoward circumstances intervened and the west coast has been more or less a neglected section, but is still throwing out its beacon lights of beauty and the time will come when some Columbus or Flagler will discover it and make it vie both in opulence and splendor with the east coast section.

The town of Crystal River is beautifully situated at the head waters of the river of the same name. The river is formed by springs, the same as Silver Springs and loses itself in the gulf at a distance of nine miles.The banks on either side are lined with the historic cedar, more beautiful than those of Lebanon, we dare say, because they are interlaced and protected with the tall and graceful palmetto and have a dense pine forest for a background, which, altogether, form an exquisite picture of tropical luxuriance rarely seen.

But as lovely as the landscape is, its beauty is not its sole attraction, for the cedar, the palmetto and the pine are becoming more and more valuable as trees of commerce and  the banks of the river and the nearby tributaries will furnish sources of supply for many years to come.

There is already at Crystal River a big lumber mill, owned by the Camps, capable of sawing 100,000 feet per day. There is also a large crate mill, owned by Mr. Baum, which employs 100 hands and the Dixon Cedar Mills has been largely the warp and woof of the little city for a long while and promises to remain a fixture and bids fair to count its years as did Methuselah of old. Its reputation has grown world-wide.

Fiber factories for the utilization of the palmetto are becoming more and more abundant and it is being discovered that every particle of the tree can add to the demands of our hungry civilization.

Besides the factories already named there are two large fish and oyster companies and an ice company at Crystal River, which are doing a large and growing business and the people in all walks of life are buoyant and optimistic.

The progressive citizens carried us to the mouth of the river and hear and there along both shores are the residences of winter visitors, the summer cottages and also the permanent homesteaders.

We passed the home of Mr. Tilley, a prominent Virginian, who spends his winters with his daughter on the shores of this lovely stream. He has a conspicuous home and grounds and an orange grove of several acres.

We also passed the home of Mr. George H. Stratener, who also has a fine grove of many acres and we noticed other homes hidden here and there beneath the cedars and palmettos.

We passed “The Rocks,” a lovely eminence, where the late Capt. Samuel Agnew and Water Agnew, of this city, were encamped during our civil war.

Col. Nic Barco of Crystal River, was a member of Capt. Agnes company and became so entranced with the beauties of that section that he has been living there ever since and although one of its pioneer settlers, is still youthful enough to be at the head of every movement that promises to promote its welfare.

We also passed a tributary stream known as Salt River. Col. Barco said that it has been reserved for a summer and winter habitat for the defeated candidates and that they were anticipating a visit from Mr. Taft and other national republican dignitaries sometime after the results of today’s elections are made known and were making all necessary arrangements to meet them in a becoming and fitting manner.

Crystal River is a wide and opulent stream and the expenditure of only $17,000 by the federal government gave it a depth of six feet of water at the bar.

It is estimated that by expending $20,000 more it will give it a depth of twelve feet and anything like an appropriation that has been given to some of the other rivers in this and other states would easily give it a depth of twenty or more feet.

Congressman Sparkman was one of the party and he was shown the few shallow places that need excavating by federal aid and he promised that he would use all of his influence in having this work accomplished and very soon Crystal River will have an ample depth of water to magnify its commerce many times over and its citizens have a right to rejoice over their prospects of deep water and an increasing traffic.

We returned to town at eleven o’clock after a most delightful trip and found waiting the largest gathering we have seen during the present campaign.

Splendid speeches were made by Mr. R. L. Turner by superintendent of public instruction in that county and a candidate for reelection; Mr. E. L. Grace, candidate for the legislature from that county; a fervent and eloquent address by Mr. C. L. Bittinger, editor of the Ocala Star; a few remarks by the editor of this paper and a speech by Hon. S. M. Sparkman, the best we have ever heard him deliver.

After the speeches there was a sumptuous dinner, fish and oysters in all styles, furnishing the chief attractions of the spread. They were supplemented with cakes, pies hot coffee and other condiments.

The ladies of the Crystal River Village Improvement Society also served ice cream and cakes on the grounds, and their booth was well patronized.

Crystal River has an active board of trade and a Ladies Village Improvement Society and both are earnestly at work beautifying the town in every way and bringing its claim to the attention of the outside world.

The town has several splendid stores, an elegantly equipped bank, a splendid local newspaper, lodges, churches and other accessories of civilization.

The Dixon Crucible Company, the crate factory, the fish and oyster companies, ice plant, etc., make weekly payments, which keep a large amount of money in active circulation and give lone and activity to trade in all its ramifications.

Crystal River has a number of beautiful residences, a fine public school, good hotels and boarding houses and a spirit of activity and optimism that is commendable and inspiring.

During our visit we were guests at the Stratheon Inn, a splendidly kept hotel and the Florida tourist will find it a splendid place at which to pass the winter season.

We are under especial obligations to Col. Nic Barco, Mr. George Hyde, Mr. John Juhan and others for favors and attention and shall always retain a pleasant impression of this ambitious little city.

Transcribed , Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers

Source: Ocala Banner 

This Page Created December 6, 2011
Copyrighted 2011-  Linda Flowers
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