• Mel Dick

A Day Off with History!!!








Took the day off in St. Augustine Florida. Only the second full day off during the ride. Not sure where to start, there is so much to see and do in St. Augustine. Originally founded in 1565 by the Spanish, it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the contiguous U.S. settled by Europeans. Only San Juan Puerto Rico would be older having been founded by the Spanish in 1521. Florida was initially claimed as a territory of Spain in 1513 when the Spanish explorer and conquistador, Ponce de Leon, lead the first Spanish expedition to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth. To put that into a timeline perspective, the English didn't establish a colony in America until Jamestown was founded in 1607 and in 1609 and 1611 the Spanish sent expeditions from St. Augustine to attack Jamestown. Spain, France and England all fought over Florida with the Spanish and English gaining control at various times. England controlled Florida during the American Revolutionary War. The Spanish received Florida back as part of the treaty to end the Revolutionary War and in 1819 the Spanish ceded Florida to the U.S. In 1845 Florida became the 27st state of the U.S.


St. Augustine was a very important colonial city for Spain as it served as the protector of Spanish ships returning with gold and other precious goods via the Atlantic Gulf Stream. And, as you can see from above, St. Augustine is known for it's Spanish colonial architecture as noted in the last picture.


No discussion of St. Augustine or Florida for that matter would be complete without mentioning Henry Flagler, co-founder of the Standard Oil Company. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of Miami and Palm Beach, Florida. He built two amazing hotels in St. Augustine, the Ponce de Leon Hotel, which now serves as Flagler College, and Alcazar Hotel, which now houses the Lightner Museum which I visited today. The picture of the restaurant above is in Lightner Museum and was originally the world's largest indoor swimming pool when it was part of the Alcazar Hotel. All over the City there are churches and other buildings all built by Flagler. Flagler's rail company also completed the Florida Overseas Railroad to Key West in 1912...more on that as I complete my ride down the Keys.


Tomorrow I start the final push to Key West. I'll be taking a route that will have me visit friends on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as well as riding through the Everglades. I'm even considering going to Disney World. Approximately 1,000 to Key West!

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