The Short-Lived Logging Town of Centralia

Special to Hernando Sun, Cynthia Taylor

Centralia Sawmill

The Centralia sawmill site is now on Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. It was a short-lived logging town to harvest 15,000 acres of monster red Tidewater Cypress trees from the Gulf’s edge. To drive to Centralia, travel CR 476 west and take Centralia Road. When you reach US 19 you are “downtown” Centralia (Post Office was open June 10, 1910 until December 11, 1922).

Centralia Today

This area was once the float pond, where logs were floated to the sawmill.

Today, it's hard to tell that Centralia was once a community of about 1800 people. The trees which were cleared at the time to make way for a mill, town, housing and rail have taken a strong hold once again. There are relics from the past like brick used in the furnaces, glass and burnt wood/charcoal fragments.

More impressively, the ramp where the logs were rolled up into the mill from the float pond remains as well as the base of the double band saw itself.

36th Annual Brooksville Raid Reenactment

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

 36th Annual Brooksville Raid

Today at the Sandhill Scout Reservation in Brooksville, canvas tents stood clustered amongst the landscape, fire pits remained smoking from the morning cook out, ladies were adorned in elaborate hoop dresses while children played soldier with their friends. Rifle and canonfire could be heard ringing out miles away, while clashes ensued between the Union and Confederate soldiers. These are the scenes which greeted onlookers at the 36th Brooksville Raid Re-enactment.

The unbelievable story about Homosassa's Fishbowl


There is an almost unbelievable story about Homosassa. The underwater viewing area known as the Fishbowl was lowered into the Spring on bananas. The owners of the Spring at the time, Norris Development Co., needed to slide the underwater observatory which weighed 157 tons to its present location in the spring on skids. To accomplish this, they needed to lubricate the skids, but they did not want to use a lubricant that could injure fish or the spring. They needed something biodegradable and natural.

History of Events Commemorated by the Brooksville Raid

It was the summer of 1864. Sources state that four ships numbering 240 men from the 2nd Florida Cavalry (Union) and the 2nd U. S. Colored Infantry unloaded near Bayport. Many of the Union soldiers were familiar with the terrain, as twenty percent of the men from the 2nd Florida Cavalry were Hernando County natives.

A Family Celebrates 100 Years in Brooksville

Endsley-Bruce Orange Grove

Along Powell Road, about a mile past the railroad tracks, there is a sprawling and meticulously kept orange grove. A long driveway leads you past majestic oaks and along the western edge of the grove to a humble home. There I spoke to Lynn Endsley Bruce, granddaughter of A.B. and Adelia Endsley who purchased the property in 1916.

"There are no more Endsley's left except me," explained Lynn Endsley Bruce. The grove is still in her family just the same and her grandson, now in college, wishes to take over the property someday.

Colonel George C. Martin avoids being caught in court "totin' weepins"


Photo: Colonel George C. Martin- Brooksville, Florida. 19--? State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

BROOKSVILLE - Colonel George C. Martin was law partner of William Sherman Jennings. Martin served as the campaign manager for his Jennings' campaign for governor. The campaign was successful and Jennings was Florida's 18th Governor from 1901-1905.

Martin was a well known Brooksville attorney and his legal arguments were legendary. In a memoir entitled Twenty Four Year In the Woods, On the Waters and in the Cities of Florida by Judge Harry A. Peeples from 1906, there are several stories about Martin. One of these stories that is particularly fantastic is included.

Masaryktown 90th Anniversary Celebration

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Masaryktown 90th Anniversary Celebration, Lauren Dodson

Lauren Dodson, raised in Masaryktown was visiting her father, Larry Dodson, who is acting President of the Masaryktown Community Center back in February. She stumbled upon a foundation sign from a school house that has been long gone.

The sign stated "School founded in 1925." She also remembers a photo that showed around 100 Slovakians with the caption stating, “On December 5, 1925 these Slovaks arrived from New York City.”

Early Schools of Hernando County: Brooksville, Spring Hill, Spring Lake, Istachatta and Bayport

Lykes One Room Schoolhouse in Spring Hill

Early Hernando County schools were privately run by individual families or churches. Schools in Spring Hill and Istachatta were established quite early on and functioned as a refuge that could be used during indian attack. An early school in Brooksville housed in the Union Baptist Church thrived before the Civil War. These early schools were quite numerous, but much of their history has been lost.

God and Country at the Countryman One Room Schoolhouse

Countryman One Room School House

Like many Americans during the first half of the 20th century, especially those who lived in rural communities, Gretchen Countryman attended a one room schoolhouse. Siblings years apart in age would learn alongside other children of varying ages in a simple school with just one room. “A one room school house is like a family,” explained Ms. Countryman. She had the privilege of being educated in this manner for 6 years, between 1946 and 1952. Countryman explained that in 1952, schools began to centralize across the country. Her one room schoolhouse days were over by the seventh grade.


History Mystery

Who is this Man at the Foot of a Giant Cypress?

In the early part of the 20th century, logging was a big industry in Hernando County. Giant Cypress such as the one pictured here was in high demand for shipbuilding and to support rapidly increasing population growth. Entire mills often relocated to a new area after they had cut down all the lumber in their vicinity and had to shut down as is the case for the Central Cypress Lumber Company which founded the Centralia lumber mill. So much information has been lost in the past century. Can you help to solve this history mystery and identify the man above or have any related details?

Know Hernando!

What is this in Tom Varn Park?


by Julie Maglio

This structure stands in the middle of Tom Varn Park which was once the Brooksville Quarry. According to historian Frasier Mountain, a railroad track once ran to this spot to bring coal from Alabama for the steam boiler that powered a pump used to recycle water from the slush pond. The ponds in Tom Varn Park adjacent to the structure were once the deepest points of the slush pond (15’-20’ deep).