Kenansville, a once-thriving cattle town in Florida, now stands as a ghost town, a silent testament to a bygone era. This town was once a bustling hub for farmers and cattlemen who relied on the now-defunct Okeechobee spur of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad to transport their goods.
Named after Flagler’s third wife, Kenansville was a significant source of trade and commerce in the late 1800s until the railroad was pulled out. Today, the town may be forgotten, but it still has remnants of its past that offer glimpses into its history.
This article aims to take you on a journey through time, exploring the forgotten history of Kenansville and experiencing the old Florida through the eyes of its pioneers. From its origins to its present-day state, we will delve into the history of this once-thriving cattle town, highlighting its landmarks and attractions, and discussing its preservation and future plans.
So, join us as we discover Kenansville: A Forgotten Cattle Town and explore its rich history and culture.
- Kenansville was a late 1800s cattle town on the now defunct Okeechobee spur of the Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad.
- The town died when the railroad was pulled out, but there is a small resident population of farmers and cattlemen.
- The old hotel in Kenansville is being renovated by a local landowner and is rumored to have inspired Elvis Presley’s hit Heartbreak Hotel.
- Visitors can tour the old Kenansville Cemetery and explore the Old Peavine Road, one of the old pioneer roads of Florida that few know about.
History and Origins
The history and origins of Kenansville can be traced back to its founding as a cattle town in the late 1800s. The town was located on the now defunct Okeechobee spur of the Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad, which ran right through the town.
In 1914, the town was given the name Kenansville in honor of Mary Lily Kenan, the third wife of Henry Flagler. However, the town’s decline began when the railroad was pulled out, leading to its eventual abandonment.
Despite its short-lived history, Kenansville was home to notable residents and figures. The town was primarily populated by farmers and cattlemen, who relied on the railroad for transportation of their goods. The town also had a hotel, the Webb’s Heartbreak Hotel, which is said to have inspired Elvis Presley to write his hit song ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.
Today, the town is mostly abandoned, with a small resident population of farmers and cattlemen. However, the town’s history and legacy live on through its remaining landmarks, such as the Kenansville Depot, Kenansville Bank, Cohen’s General Store, and the old Kenansville Cemetery.
Landmarks and Attractions
Several landmarks and attractions can be found in the area of Kenansville, each with its own unique history and significance.
One such landmark is the Old Peavine Road, which is considered one of the old pioneer roads of Florida. This dirt road winds through the Florida scrub and Hammocks and offers visitors a glimpse into what the old Florida looked like. It is a great place to take a leisurely drive or even hike. The road eventually dead ends on US 60, so visitors can explore without the fear of getting lost.
Another notable attraction in Kenansville is the Kenansville Cemetery, which provides a glimpse into the town’s past. Visitors can take a tour of the cemetery and learn about the early settlers of the area.
Additionally, the Kenansville Bank is a historic building that still stands today and provides a glimpse into the town’s past. Visitors can explore the building and learn about the banking history in Kenansville.
And for those interested in local cuisine, the area is known for its cattle drive and visitors can enjoy a variety of dishes made with fresh beef.
Overall, there are several landmarks and attractions in Kenansville that offer visitors a unique glimpse into the town’s past and present.
Preservation and Future Plans
Preservation efforts and future plans for Kenansville’s historic landmarks and attractions are currently underway. One of the notable renovation projects in the area is the hotel being restored by a local landowner. The hotel, Webb’s Heartbreak Hotel, is believed to be the inspiration for Elvis Presley’s hit song, Heartbreak Hotel.
The renovation involves restoring the hotel to its former glory while preserving its historical significance. The community is also involved in the restoration project, with volunteers contributing their time and skills to help with the renovation.
In addition to the hotel, other landmarks and attractions in Kenansville are also undergoing preservation efforts. The Kenansville Depot, Kenansville Bank, and Cohen’s General Store are among the historic buildings being restored.
The community’s involvement in preserving these landmarks is a testament to their dedication to preserving the town’s rich history. As these preservation efforts continue, Kenansville’s historic landmarks and attractions will be available for future generations to appreciate and learn from.
Frequently Asked Questions
What was the population of Kenansville at its peak and how has it changed over time?
The population of Kenansville at its peak is not specified in the given information. However, it is known that the town died when the railroad was pulled out, but a small resident population of farmers and cattlemen still remains. There is no further information on demographic trends over time.
Are there any famous or notable individuals who have visited or lived in Kenansville?
Notable figures such as Elvis Presley have been rumored to have visited Kenansville. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. Despite this, the town holds historical significance as a former cattle town on the Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad.
What industries besides cattle ranching were prominent in Kenansville’s history?
Kenansville had a diversified economy that included citrus groves, sawmills, and turpentine distilleries. Cultural influences from Native American and African American communities were also prominent in the town’s history.
Are there any local legends or ghost stories associated with Kenansville or its landmarks?
Local folklore traditions suggest paranormal activity at the abandoned Kenansville Hotel, including sightings of apparitions and unexplained noises. Legend has it that the hotel inspired Elvis Presley’s hit “Heartbreak Hotel.”
How has the natural landscape of Kenansville and its surroundings changed since the town’s founding?
Ecological impact and natural disasters have altered the natural landscape of Kenansville since its founding. The area has experienced changes in vegetation, water flow, and wildlife due to human activity, hurricanes, and droughts.