Port Orange-Ponce Inlet Historical TrailPort Orange-Ponce Inlet 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.

Port Orange-Ponce Inlet Historical Trail

Copyright 2006 by Steve Rajtar

(From Interstate 95, drive southwest 1.6 miles on Taylor Rd. (SR 421) and east on Gamble Pl. to the sign at the turnoff to the Gamble House. The home can be toured if prior arrangements are made with the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach. Otherwise, a gate will keep you from seeing more than a portion of the home in the distance.)(0.0 miles so far)

South side of Gamble Pl., east of Taylor Rd.

1....Gamble House

James Gamble, the proprietor of Proctor & Gamble, began wintering in Daytona Beach in 1862. He bought this land in 1898 from George Leffman and built this Bungalow on Spruce Creek in the early 1900s and named it "Egwanulti", an Indian term meaning "by the water". At the same time, he built a citrus packing barn.

The house was reachable by horse and buggy or by Gamble's open-air yacht, the Seabreeze. Reaching the property by boat required dismantling and reconstructing a railroad trestle serving the railroad owned by Gamble, who died in 1932.

Near the main house is a playhouse built in 1938 by Gamble's son-in-law, Judge Alfred K. Nippert. It was modeled after the Snow White House in the 1937 Disney film. Walt Disney was a guest at the property that same year. Earlier guests of Gamble here included John D. Rockefeller, H.J. Heinz, and William Howard Taft.

The house was given by Gamble's heirs to the Nature Conservancy in 1983. It sits within the 150-acre Spruce Creek Environmental Preserve.

(Drive west on Gamble Pl., northeast on Taylor Rd. past Interstate 95, northeast and east on Dunlawton Rd. and north on Ridgewood Ave. (US 1) to park along the road as close to Dunlawton Rd. as is available.)(0.0)

North of intersection of Dunlawton Rd. and Ridgewood Ave.

2....Port Orange

In 1865, several freedmen attempted to found a colony here, but failed and moved to other parts of the state. When the Florida Land and Lumber Company began their development of the area, they took the suggestion of John Milton Hawks and named it Port Orange. Hawks, described as a militant radical, became its postmaster in April of 1867.

(Walk north on Ridgewood Ave., northwest on Charles St., southeast on McDonald Rd., and southwest on Old Sugarmill Rd. 500 feet past Sugarplum Ln.)(1.4)

North side of Old Sugarmill Rd., between Sugarplum Ln. and Herbert St.

3....Dunlawton Plantation Ruins

Some historians believe that the sugar mill was first built here on the site of a Spanish mission established by Franciscan friars in about 1625. It would have been one of the outposts of the mother mission in St. Augustine. Recent studies, including a search of official Spanish records from that period, have indicated that it probably was not such a mission.

Patrick Dean was granted 955 acres here in 1804 from Spain, and operated the plantation until he was killed by an Indian. It passed to his sister, who sold it to Charles Lawton in 1830. He named it Dun-Lawton, Dun being his mother's maiden name.

In 1832 the land was acquired by James and George Anderson. They had owned a plantation on the Tomoka River and sold it to buy this one. They operated the plantation until the settlers were defeated by Coacoochee at the Seminole War battle of Dun-Lawton. All homes were burned and the mill was partially destroyed.

In 1846, John J. Marshall of South Carolina bought the partially destroyed Anderson plantation, rebuilt the mill and began growing sugar cane. Within a decade, he abandoned production. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers made salt here and camped under the Confederate Oak on site.

In the 1940s and 1950s, this was the site of Bongoland, a theme park featuring concrete dinosaurs created by M.D. "Manny" Lawrence and Bongo, a baboon. The land later passed to J. Saxton Lloyd who artistically landscaped it and donated it to the county in 1963.

This site was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 28, 1973.

(Continue southwest on Old Sugarmill Rd., then walk east on Herbert St. to the intersection with the railroad tracks, and look to the north northeast.)(2.5)

East side of the dirt road just east of the railroad tracks, north of Herbert St.

4....Railroad Depot

This building once served as Port Orange's railroad depot, when it was located just south of Dunlawton Ave. on the present site of Port Orange Elementary School. It was acquired by Williams Roofing and moved to this location, and later was the home of Central Pump & Supply, Inc.

(Continue east on Herbert St., then walk south on Orange St. and east on Church St. to the intersection with Ridgewood Ave.)(3.1)

Southwest corner of Ridgewood Ave. and Church St. (4100-10 Ridgewood Ave.)

5....Grace Episcopal Church

This Victorian Revival style sanctuary was built in about 1893 by Rev. Charles W. Arnold. The land was donated by Dr. and Mrs. C.H. Meeker. Two of the stained glass windows were made by the Tiffany Glass studio in about 1894 and 1902.

The addition on the west side was built in 1966 for the library, Sunday school and office. The new sanctuary was completed in 1984.

(Walk north on Ridgewood Ave. and east on Dunlawton Rd. to the bridge.)(3.3)

Dunlawton Rd., crossing the Halifax River


S.H. Gove built a bridge across the Halifax River in 1906. It was torn down, then replaced by a new bridge which opened in December of 1950.

(Walk west on Dunlawton Rd. to the intersection with Halifax Dr.)(3.4)

Northwest corner of Dunlawton Rd. and Halifax Dr.

7....Site of Port Orange Hotel

The hotel located here was established in the 1880s with E.A. McDaniel as its proprietor, and for a time was known as the McDaniel House. It later became the Alligator Inn and then the Riverview Apartments. At one point it was used as a tuberculosis sanitarium while it was owned by Dr. Masters. It was removed in about 2000.

(Walk west on Dunlawton Rd. and north on Ridgewood Ave. to the point of beginning.)(3.5)

(Drive south on Ridgewood Ave., then east on Dunlawton Rd. over the bridge across the Halifax River, and southeast on Atlantic Ave. To shorten the final total distance shown below by 3.2 miles, leave one vehicle parked in the municipal lot at the southwest corner of Atlantic Ave. and Major St. Continue southeast on Atlantic Ave. and Robert A. Merrill Pkwy., and turn right just before the county park toll booth and drive southwest on Lighthouse Rd. and west on Peninsula Dr. to park in the municipal lot for the park and playground - not the one for the lighthouse. Walk south to Peninsula Dr.)(3.6)

North side of Ponce Inlet

8....Site of Pacetti Homestead

Bartola Clement Pacetti settled on the north shore of Mosquito Inlet in 1854 on 210 acres that had previously been granted by the Spanish government to Antonio Ponce. He built a house of driftwood, containing a log chimney chinked with mud. Pacetti served in the Confederate army.

In 1867, a post office opened nearby, but during that same year it was moved across the Halifax River to C.C. Sutton's house. It moved to McDaniels in 1868.

Pacetti sold 10 acres to the government as a lighthouse site. He recieved $400, which he used to enlarge his house and create the Pacetti Hotel, well-known as a hunting and fishing resort. The hotel was later owned by Oliver Gamble, daughter of James N. Gamble of the Proctor and Gamble Company.

(Walk west and northwest 650 feet on Peninsula Dr.)(3.7)

East side of S. Peninsula Dr., south of Ocean Way

9....Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse

The first light in this vicinity to aid navigation was established by the British on the north side of the inlet, and has been described as a barrel on a pole for daylight use and a bonfire on a dune for night.

In 1834-35, the second lighthouse was constructed near here on the south side of the inlet. Winslow Lewis of Boston built it for $7,500. In 1835, before oil had arrived to light its lamps, a storm undermined the foundation. Workmen were prevented by hostile Seminoles from stopping further damage, and the tower collapsed.

The next lighthouse was built of red bricks made in Baltimore and shipped here, with the light being lit for the first time in late 1887. Its cost was $170,000, including the adjacent buildings. The light from the 2,000 lb. lens made in Paris in 1867 for $5,000, reached by 213 stairs, could be seen for 19 miles. Drapes were drawn around the Fresnel lens during the day to prevent the sun from cracking its prisms or starting fires on the ground.

In 1897, author Stephen Crane was involved in a shipwreck off the coast while on his way to cover the Cuban Revolution for his newspaper. His experience was relived in his short story, The Open Boat, in which the survivors steered toward the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse.

At first, kerosene was used to produce a flame for the lens. Later, that was changed to electricity. A battery operated the water pump and lights in the homes as early as 1924, but the light in the tower was not electrified until 1933.

In 1926, the name of Mosquito Inlet was changed to Ponce de Leon Inlet.

At 175 feet, it is the second-tallest lightouse on the east coast. It ceased functioning as a lighthouse in 1970, when the beacon on top of the New Smyrna Coast Guard Station made it unnecessary. It stood vacant for two years.

In 1972, it was deeded to the Town of Ponce Inlet, and was named a National Historic Landmark on September 22, 1972. In 1983, it was reinstated and relit as a lighthouse when a New Smyrna Beach condominium obscured the Coast Guard Beacon. It became a Private Aid to Navigation in 2004 when the 1933 third order Fresnel lens was reinstalled.

(Continue north on Peninsula Dr., then walk west and northwest on Sailfish Dr. and west on Rains Dr. until it ends at the wooden fence.)(4.0)

South end of Front St.

10....Bob's Bluff

An Indian kitchen midden shell mound was located here, creating some elevation over the level of the river. Some of the mound is still evident.

Gov. Grant had proposed the building of a fort here to protect the Turnbull colony at what is now New Smyrna Beach. Later, the area was claimed by Robert Turnbull. The bluff may have been named after him.

(Walk east on Rains Dr., northwest on Sailfish Dr., west on Beach St., and north 75 feet on Front St.)(4.3)

North end of Front St., facing the river

11....Site of Ponce Hotel

In 1890, E.G. Rogers built the Ponce Hotel cosing $2,000, with 26 rooms surrounding a landscaped courtyard. During the 1930s, the hotel burned down and the area began to decline in importance.

(Walk south on Front St., east on Beach St., and northwest on Peninsula Dr. to the intersection with Loggerhead Ct.)(5.8)

East bank of the Halifax River

12....Site of Ponce Park

In the early 1880s, Gen. Orville Babcock was in charge of building the lighthouse, and while doing so he bought a portion of the old Antonio Pons property. He intended to start a settlement here with the name of Ponce Park, but before he could erect any improvements, he drowned while supervising the landing of a shipment of materials for the lighthouse.

Ponce Park eventually had a post office which opened in March of 1884, Mrs. T.H. Ferguson's restaurant, James Hardy's mercantile store, B.C. Pacetti's boarding house, and eight to ten houses. A one-room school opened in about 1900. By 1900, Ponce Park had turned into one of the most famous fishing resorts on the east coast.

(Continue northwest on Peninsula Dr. 1650 feet past Jana Dr.)(7.1)

East side of Peninsula Dr., between Jana Dr. and Old Carriage Rd.

13....Green Mound

This was one of the largest shell mounds in the country, formerly more than 50 feet high. It is largely composed of shells from oysters collected from the surrounding lagoons. The mound was constructed and used after 800 A.D., known as the late St. Johns period. There is evidence of structures on the mound, consisting of fire pits, post holes and accumulated debris.

(Continue northwest on Peninsula Dr., then walk northeast on Old Carriage Rd. to the intersection with Atlantic Ave. If you left a vehicle parked at the corner of Major St., walk northwest 0.3 miles on Atlantic Ave. for a total distance of 7.8 miles. If you are headed back to Lighthouse Park, cross Atlantic Ave. and proceed east on the wooden walkover, then walk south on the beach to the third access ramp large enough to accommodate cars. This will be marked with signs indicating the boundary of the conservation area. Exit the beach via the ramp onto Beach St., then walk south on Atlantic Ave. and Robert A. Merrill Pkwy., southwest on Lighthouse Rd., and west on Peninsula Dr. to the point of beginning.)(11.0)


An Official Guide to Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens, (Botanical Gardens of Volusia, Inc.)

The Beacon of Mosquito Inlet: A History of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, by Thomas W. Taylor (1993)

Centennial History of Volusia County, Florida 1854-1954, by Ianthe Bond Hebel (College Publishing Company 1955)

Discover Florida: A Guide to Unique Sites and Sights, by Robert Tolf (Manatee Books 1982)

Florida Historic Stained Glass Survey: Sites of Historic Windows in Public Facilities in the State of Florida, by Robert O. Jones (Florida Members of the Stained Glass Association of America 1995)

Florida Lighthouses, by Kevin M. McCarthy (University of Florida Press 1990)

Florida's History Through Its Places: Properties in the National Register of Historic Places, by Morton D. Winsberg (Florida State University 1988)

Guide to Florida Lighthouses, by Elinor DeWire (Pineapple Press, Inc. 1987)

Guide to Florida's Historic Architecture, (University of Florida Press 1989)

Historic Daytona Beach (a self-guided tour), (The Halifax Historical Society 1992)

Historic Homes of Florida, by Laura Stewart & Susanne Hupp (Pineapple Press, Inc. 1995)

History of Volusia County, Florida, by Pleasant Daniel Gold (The E.O. Painter Printing Co. 1927)

Hopes, Dreams, & Promises: A History of Volusia County, Florida, by Michael G. Schene (News-Journal Corporation 1976)

The Peninsular State Story: Florida's Fabulous History, by Charles J. Williams (Peninsular Life Insurance Company 1958)

Ruins of the Early Plantations of the Halifax Area, by Edith P. Stanton (Burgman & Son 1957)

Southern Lighthouses: Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, by Ray Jones (Globe Pequot Press 1989)

Tales of Ponce Inlet, by Ayres Davis (Burns Printing Company 1995)

True Natives: The Prehistory of Volusia County, by Dana Ste. Claire (Hall Publishing Company 1992)

Click here for a copy of the trail rules.