Cape Canaveral-Cocoa Beach Historical Trail
1....Print this file.
2....At its end, click on "rules" to see a copy of the trail rules, print it, and then click where indicated at the end of the 3-page rules and patch order form to get back to the list of Florida trails.
3....If you want a hand-drawn map showing the locations of all of the sites, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Steve Rajtar, 1614 Bimini Dr., Orlando, FL 32806.
4....Hike the trail and order whatever patches you like (optional).
WARNING - This trail may pass through one or more neighborhoods which, although full of history, may now be unsafe for individuals on foot, or which may make you feel unsafe there. Hikers have been approached by individuals who have asked for handouts or who have inquired (not always in a friendly manner) why the hikers are in their neighborhood. Drugs and other inappropriate items have been found by hikers in some neighborhoods. It is suggested that you drive the hike routes first to see if you will feel comfortable walking them and, if you don't think it's a good place for you walk, you might want to consider (1) traveling with a large group, (2) doing the route on bicycles, or (3) choosing another hike route. The degree of comfort will vary with the individual and with the time and season of the hike, so you need to make the determination using your best judgment. If you hike the trail, you accept all risks involved.
(From Interstate 95, drive east on SR 520 across the Banana River, then drive north on Atlantic Ave. and Jetty Dr., then east on Jetty Rd. to park in Jetty Park. If you want to avoid the parking fee, you will want to seek out alternative parking and instead walk to the park. Walk to the east end of the pier and look toward the north.)(0.2 miles so far)
The cape which extends into the Atlantic Ocean was first sighted by Ponce de Leon on March 27, 1513, as he searched for riches, glory and the fountain of youth. He called it Cabo de las Corrientes, or "cape of the currents". Other Spanish explorers called it Canaberal or Canaveral, meaning "place of reeds" or "place of cane".
In 1848, a 65-foot wooden tower was erected with keepers William Carpenter and John Scobie. Capt. Mills O. Burnham took over as keeper and served in that capacity until 1886, and his descendants continued as keepers until 1952.
The tower was found to be too short for the whale oil fueled light to shine sufficiently far out into the ocean. Some ships ran aground while searching for the light. A second lighthouse was begun in 1859, but the Civil War halted work on the 145-foot iron tower. During the war, it was dismantled and the light was buried to protect it from seizure. Work resumed after the war and the lighthouse was completed in 1868. It produced a light that could be seen 18 miles at sea.
It was found that the tower was built too close to the ocean, and jetties were built in an unsuccessful attempt to stop beach erosion. To solve the problem, it was dismantled and the light was re-lit for the first time about a mile from the shore in July of 1894. It was taken over by the Coast Guard in 1939, and was made an Honorary Historic Landmark by the Brevard County Commission in 1990.
In 1949-50, the Long-Range Proving Ground was created here on eight square miles of land. Areas then or previously occupied by several settlements were absorbed into the government facility.
Cape Canaveral was renamed as Cape Kennedy because of that president's interest in the space program and his visit to the cape five days before his assassination, and the name of Cape Canaveral was later restored.
This harbor is man-made, cut and first dredged in 1953.
This area was first settled in 1856 by H. Wilson and Mills Olcott Burnham.
During the 1920s, this area was called Artesia, the home of fishermen, a few retirees, and descendants of lighthouse keeper Capt. Burnham. He had come to Florida for his health in 1837, lived at Ankona Bluff from 1843 to 1847, worked at Col. Marshall's sugar cane plantation, and became lighthouse keeper in 1853. Stained glass windows in his memory are located in St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Titusville.
This shopping center began as the Palms Plaza, and included the headquarters of the local American Legion chapter.
The VFW chapter was installed in 1975 in the Machinist Union Building on Taylor Ave., and later that year moved into this new building.
This school opened in 1964 with Robert Mink as its first principal.
A group of retired Orlando journalists in the 1920s invested over $150,000 in beach acreage here, naming it Journalista. The development is now known as Avon-by-the-Sea.
This library building was built in 1988 and dedicated in 1989. It was remodeled in 1996.
This two-story office building was erected in 1966. It was the first home of the public library in 1967.
A meeting at the Tropicana Juice Plant in Port Canaveral was held on March 10, 1962, and the residents voted for incorporation. Some questions were later raised about the validity of the election, and another vote was taken on June 2, 1962, again approving incorporation.
The city government had its offices in the store buildings on Monroe and Buchanan Aves., then in the Ben Kori Building, and in 1965 the present building was constructed.
This served as the city hall in 1964 and 1965.
The recreation center had its first home in a renovated bank building. The present facility was built in 1975.
Mr. and Mrs. Dave Holt opened a restaurant near here in 1958, and it became a popular hangout for the press and astronauts during the 1960s. Across the street was Jake's Bowling Alley, which doubled as a church on Sundays. Nearby at the corner of Jackson and Astronaut Blvd. is the Moon Hut restaurant, another favorite of Space Center personnel since the 1950s.
A 1919 election chose a route to the island called Roger's Route, which ran from the mainland south to Horti Point on Merritt Island, then east over several mangrove islands to Oceanus on the beach. The bridge opened on April 19, 1922. O.S. Worley served as the bridge tender for 13 years, collecting a toll of 20 cents for the round trip, plus four cents for each additional passenger. The old wooden bridge was torn down after completion of the Merritt Island Causeway.
During the spring of 1957, the Beach Community Hospital General Committee was established and the state donated submerged land here for the construction of a hospital. Dredging began in 1960 and the hospital opened on July 26, 1962.
Southern Bell Telephone Company built this $450,000 building in 1962, replacing one it had built in 1951.
This park was dedicated to honor this country's first man in space on October 20, 1963.
This park was dedicated in 1988 to be a permanent reminder of the importance of the U.S. Constitution. On the reverse side is a dedication to the seven original Mercury astronauts.
This park is named after a former Commissioner of Brevard County (1969-72) and state representative (1972-78). Teenagers needed a place to congregate other than Kiwanis Island, where they were not wanted by the various civic clubs using that facility. The teens petitioned the county commission, of which Lori Wilson was then a member. They bought an old motel here and developed the land into a park. At the request of the teens, the park was named after Wilson, who had devoted herself to make the park a reality. In 1972, after a 4-0 vote of the commission, it was opened.
This park is named after the man who served as Cocoa Beach's mayor from 1956 until 1960. The beach and dune areas are typical of the coast's appearance prior to development and commercialization.
Under the flagpole is the memorial to the original seven Mercury astronauts, showing the dates of their first rides into space. It was dedicated in 1969, and the date for Deke Slayton (7/15/75) was added later.
In the mid-1920s, Gus C. Edwards erected a building near here to house a restaurant and a real estate office, from which he directed the development of the town. On July 30, 1925, Edwards sold 425 acres of the town to Col. R.G. McFerran's New York syndicate for $1,200,000, but later got it back when they defaulted on the loan.
The building later housed the post office. During the 1950s, Oliver Haisten was its postmaster. One of the area's first restaurants, Bernard's Surf, was established here by Bernard Fischer on October 30, 1948.
The town commission decided to build a $600 church in 1944 for the congregation that formed in 1942, and it was completed in 1948. The fellowship hall was built in 1959 by contractor and parishioner Jack Hurck. The church is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.
On October 1, 1940, the Banana River Naval Station was established. It was renamed in 1948 after Maj. Gen. Mason M. Patrick, the chief of the Army Air Service Corps from 1921 to 1927. The base was combined in 1958 with Cape Canaveral and the island tracking stations to form the Air Force Eastern Test Range.
The city bought this property from Southern Bell on February 2, 1983, for $185,000. A fire station was built, completed in 1984. When the fire department moved from the city hall, the old truck bays were converted to the city commission room.
In 1963, the new police station was a one-story building separated from the city hall by an alley. Later, it was connected to the city hall and a second story was added to it.
The first substantial settlement in the Cocoa Beach area was begun by newly freed slaves just after the Civil War. They claimed all land south of the cape between the ocean and the Banana River. The homesteaders were flooded out by an 1885 hurricane. In 1888, a group from Cocoa bought the land, and it was later acquired by attorney Gus C. Edwards.
Edwards arrived in Cocoa on October 23, 1915, and was appointed its city attorney. In 1919, he hired workers from Georgia to clear a portion of the land for development. To honor the people of Cocoa, he named this area Cocoa Beach.
Cocoa Beach incorporated in 1925. In 1950, the town's offices were moved into a one-story building on this corner. However, it was so small that people had to sit outside and look in through the windows to watch commission meetings. It was torn down in 1961.
The present city hall was dedicated on March 10, 1963. During construction, temporary offices were located in a fire department building in Loveridge.
Brevard County, by Elaine Murray Stone (Windsor Publications, Inc. 1988)
The City of Cocoa Beach: The First Sixty Years, by Glenn Rabac (Apollo Books 1986)
Florida Lighthouses, by Kevin M. McCarthy (University of Florida Press 1990)
Guide to Florida Lighthouses, by Elinor DeWire (Pineapple Press, Inc. 1987)
Historic Brevard, (Brevard County Historical Commission 1989)
History of Brevard County (vols. 1 and 2), by Jerrell H. Shofner (Brevard County Historical Commission 1995)
History of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, by Frank M. Childers (The Brevard Museum, Inc. 1993)
The History of the City of Cape Canaveral and the Cape Canaveral Area, by Ann Hatfield Thurm (Online Associates of Brevard 1964)
Indian River, Florida's Treasure Coast, by Walter R. Hellier (Hurricane House 1965)
Southern Lighthouses: Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, by Ray Jones (Globe Pequot Press 1989)
Tales of Old Brevard, by Georgiana Kjerluff (The Kellersberger Fund of The South Brevard Historical Society, Inc. 1972)
Click here for a copy of the trail rules.