April 14 – Cedar Key facts from Wikipedia
Today we decided it was time to give the bikes some exercise and ourselves too.
We rode our bikes into Cedar Key, first to the Cedar Key Museum State Park. Along the way we enjoyed seeing all of styles of houses found along the way, from ranch style to houses standing high above the ground on stilts.
The museum and park provided us a look at the early history of Cedar Key and the resourcefulness of this little town over the years from a major shipping port in the the 1860’s, thanks to the completion of the cross-state railroad between Cedar Key and Fernandina.
It was a major salt producer for the Confederate armies during the War between the States who use the salt to preserve food. We learned sea water was placed in large cast iron salt kettles, and then the water was boiled away leaving the salt in the kettle.
Later Cedar Key became a major source of lumber, and manufactured Faber and Eagle pencils and other wood products. The cedar trees were over forested, and a hurricane washed out parts of the railroad, and the area’s lumber economy faltered. Then fishing, oysters and crabs became sources or revenue, there was also a short period where manufacturing brushes and brooms using palm fiber (remember the whisk brooms your mother used to sweep up your messes?) supported the area until this ended with the discovery of plastic. Today’s industry is farm raised clams and tourism.
Evidence of this rise and fall over the years is evident in the buildings of Cedar Key. As of the 2000 census, there were 790 residents in Cedar Key. By my observation, currently there is 1 gas station, 1 hardware store, 1 grocery store, 1 fruit stand, 2 tiki bars, and about 50 restaurants, of which 44 are either out of business &/or for sale.
After visiting the museum we headed to the central part of the town to the stores selling art items made by the many artists who call Cedar Key home.
Then after topping off our bike ride with ice cream cones at the marina, we made two stops on the way home.
First at the local hardware and bait shop where we found ant traps to stop the armies of little ants that occasionally greet us on the kitchen counter when we return to the fifth wheel after a day of adventure. Our second and final stop was at the fresh fruit stand where we bought super sweet oranges for Jerry’s new margarita recipe. We are still in shock at paying $1 a piece for the small oranges. We also decided to try the boiled peanuts. We have seen them advertised ever since we’ve been in the south. They came in regular and Cajun so we decided to try a little of each. We tied our purchases to our handlebars and home we went (no baskets on our bicycles yet) … continued on page 2