Green Cove Springs, FL
Bushnell, FL - Events of Wednesday, March 16, 2016
When we switched our residency from South Dakota to Florida, one reason we decided to use St. Brendan's Isle (SBI) as our mail forwarding service is their address is recognized by Florida as a legal street address for driver's licenses and vehicle registrations. St. Brendan's Isle is located in Green Cove Springs, so Green Cove Springs is now our new "hometown."
We were able to get our driver's licenses and to register our vehicles at the county tax office in Bushnell, but it somehow didn't feel right leaving Florida a few weeks from now without ever having been in our new hometown. Therefore, we decided to take a drive to Green Cove Springs last Wednesday. Green Cove Springs is located a little over two hours from Bushnell on the banks of the St. Johns River about 15 or 20 miles south of Jacksonville.
We headed first to SBI's mail handling facility. Not only did we want to see the facility in person; but we had just gotten an email notifying us that we had received mail at our new address, and we wanted to pick it up. The mail facility is in a small industrial park north of town.
Inside, there are rows and rows of mail slots. When mail arrives, it is sorted and the envelopes are scanned if the customer has chosen that option. Our mail bin, which is obviously one of the most recent ones, is off to the right of the photo below and way in the back.
One of the pieces of mail we got contained confirmations of our Declaration of Domicile forms from the Clerk of Court. Since those confirmations are needed to register to vote and since we now had them, we headed downtown to do that next.
After we registered to vote, we drove around the downtown area a bit to reconnoiter. Much of the new development in Green Cove Springs is north of town, but the downtown is an eclectic mix of old and new. The classic, small-town movie theater in the next photo is one of the old buildings that remain.
SBI was originally located downtown, but they outgrew the building years ago and moved to their present location north of town. In order to avoid all their customers being inconvenienced by having to change their address, SBI made arrangements with the Green Cove Springs Post Office so customers could continue using their old downtown address and to have all the mail automatically redirected to the new facility. Gotta love small towns. The old building is now occupied by a naval architecture/yacht design firm, but the SBI name and address are on the window in small letters in the upper left corner.
Before we headed to Green Cove Springs, Margery did some research into places to eat. The town has most of the usual fast food restaurants north of town, but the place that sounded good to us was Farmers in the Deli located downtown.
Farmers in the Deli has a wide range of sandwiches, wraps and salads for $4.49 to $7.49. As far as we can tell, most of the sandwiches and wraps include one side. Their Reubens ($7.49) get rave reviews, so that's what we both had. We both had vinegar-dressed cole slaw for our side.
The deli has limited seating, so while we were driving around downtown, we made sure we found Spring Park that we had read about. Although the deli wasn't that crowded, the park was very nice so we ordered our Reubens to go and headed to the park to eat them.
The Reubens were great. The deli roasts most of their own meats, and the corned beef was delicious. However, it is pulled instead of being sliced making it a little difficult to eat because big chunks of meat sometimes get pulled out of the sandwich when you take a bite. The cole slaw was unusual in that in addition to both red and green cabbage, it also contained kale, radishes and cucumber.
There were historical markers in the park, so we were able to learn a little bit about the history of Green Cove Springs while we were there. Green Cove Springs was first inhabited around 7,000 years ago by Native Americans who were attracted by a mineral spring. That spring is located in the park, and it feeds a public swimming pool before flowing down the hillside into the St. John's River.
As we crossed a bridge over the spring run, there were a couple of people on the bridge who called our attention to a snake in the water below that they said was a water moccasin. We don't know a lot about snakes; but Paul was a bit skeptical because, although there was a warning sign about snakes in the run, he thought it would have been much more emphatic if those snakes were deadly water moccasins. Not only that, but Paul was pretty sure water moccasins have fatter bodies and flat, triangular heads. Later research showed the snake to be a non-venomous water snake, not a water moccasin.
Continuing on with the history of Green Cove Springs, Spain still was in control of Florida when George Clark received a land grant 1816 and built a sawmill in the area. Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821. The first settlement was established in 1854 and was called White Sulfur Springs. The town was renamed Green Cove Springs in 1866, and it became the county seat in 1871.
Following the Civil War, steamers brought tourists to the area, and tourism began to surpass lumber and citrus in economic importance. Visitors were drawn by the supposed healing properties of the spring. Arrival of Henry Flagler's railroad in the late 1800s brought even more tourists.
The age of the automobile and the advent of a state highway system brought yet more tourists and new residents in the 1920s, but the Great Depression halted that growth. Prior to the involvement of the United States in WWII, the U.S. Navy built an air field in Green Cove Springs spurring the economy of the area again.
After WWII, the Navy built a number of piers adjacent to the air field where around 600 ships were mothballed. In 1961, the government decommissioned the base and transferred the ships elsewhere. Green Cove Springs annexed the decommissioned base in 1984. The old piers were refurbished and became the Green Cove Springs Marina, which is home port to many yachts. SBI originally started its mail forwarding business to serve yacht owners who cruised extensively and/or lived full time aboard their yachts. By the way, St. Brendan's Isle was a mythical island named after St. Brendan, who is the patron saint of sailors.
In addition to picnic pavilions and the swimming pool, the park has a gazebo, a playground for kids and a municipal pier. The next photo is a view of the spring run with the playground off in the distance.
Before we left the park, we headed to the pier.
Beautiful homes line the banks of the St. John's River in the area of the park.
After we strolled out onto the pier, we walked to the truck and headed back to Blueberry Hill. We had a nice visit to our new hometown.