Scenic USA - Florida
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Points of Interest
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|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Magnificent orange groves, stately homes and fine resort hotels, set in a rich blanket of tropical foliage... briefly describes the oldest resort town on the eastern coast of central Florida. By 1887 the town of Rockledge was established and began to boast of its 400 room Indian River Hotel and the three story Plaza Hotel. Long before Henry Flagler's railroad extended southward, passenger service to Rockledge was handled by the Indian River Steamboat Company, the area's only mode of long distance transportation.
This winter resort was first settled in 1876, when Cephas Bailey Magruder built his home on a rocky bluff along a winding and very narrow Indian River pathway. Calling his residence the Rockledge home, Magruder's name was eventually passed on to the entire town.
Rockledge Drive hasn't changed a great deal over the last century. Still winding along the river's edge, today's SR 515 carries the State of Florida's designation of scenic drive, established by the 1965 state legislators. The narrow two-lane drive is still adorned with cabbage palms, century old moss-draped oaks and tropical flowers. The west side of the road is now lined with a varied mix of homes, some listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and others, modern replacements taking full advantage of the view on the Indian River. Docks and boat houses are found up and down the riverside, recalling an 1880s era when the Indian River Yacht Club was formed, and a time when river transportation was the only link to the outside world.
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