Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Who Came First?

The National Park Service established the Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve, in part, to memorialize the human histories of the area. We visited on  a whim, following a sign on the road, not knowing a thing about it.  I'm glad we did.  The visitor center holds artifacts unearthed and a display that details the activities that took place here.

Fort Caroline, on the banks of the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida was established by the French in June 1564, predating St. Augustine's September 1565 by a few months. That same year, the Spanish traveled up the river, sacked the French and built their own fort on the same site.  They held the fort until 1568 when the French returned in revenge for the 1565 massacre, slaughtering all the Spaniards.  The Spanish rebuilt the fort, but permanently abandoned the site the following year.  So, while St. Augustine is, in fact, the oldest surviving city, I was surprised to discover that it was not settled first.

Fort Caroline
The fort has been recreated by the Park Service

Entrance to the fort

St. Johns river
This is the view from the fort.

The Timucua were American Indians that were instrumental in the survival of both the French and the Spanish who occupied Fort Caroline and its surrounding village.  Not generally unified, the tribes were varied and connected only through their use of a common language.

Owl totem
This extremely rare and unusual totem was enormous and its discovery, intact, seems amazing to me.
Typical Timucuan structure

 A little off the beaten path, this is the kind of treasure I love to find when traveling.  I'm once again reminded how lucky I am to live in a country that honors its past and preserves it for generations to come.

Until next time...

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