Friday, November 26, 2010

Apalachicola Bay Oysters - Rich History of the World's Best Oyster

Pic by Betty Gilbert Davis
Many top chefs and culinary experts have proclaimed it as the world's best oyster and any oyster lover who has ever tasted the famed Apalachicola Bay oyster is likely to agree.

Harvested from a 30 mile stretch of Florida's Apalachicola Bay for thousands of years, the oysters are prized for their clean taste, consistency and size. They are also the center of a significant and deeply historic industry that has been a way of life in Apalachicola since before the Civil War.

Apalachicola Bay Oyster Boats
Ancient Indians discovered the prize oysters thousands of years ago and they have been hand harvested ever since. Even today, the wild oysters are harvested by men and women in small boats, using long rake-like tongs to bring them up from the oyster beds of the bay. The sight of the Apalachicola oyster fleet out working the bay on a clear day is one of the most interesting in the South.

Surprisingly, just as the oyster has meant a way of life for Apalachicola bay, it has also played a critical role in preserving Apalachicola as one of the most charming and best-preserved historic cities on the Florida Gulf Coast. To learn how and to read more about the delicacy of Apalachicola Bay oysters, please visit

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ocala Historic District - Ocala, Florida

The Ocala Historic District in Florida covers 173 acres and includes more than 200 noteworthy structures, making it one of the most fascinating historic districts in the South.

The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and has been the center of beautiful preservation and restoration efforts. With its oak-shaded streets, large lots and stunning architecture, it is a wonderful place to spend some time walking the sidewalks and exploring.

The development of this residential area in Ocala began after Silver Springs achieved worldwide note as a tourist destination. The booming economy of the Central Florida city prompted Joseph Caldwell to develop his land on what was then the outskirts of town. The development was platted in 1880 and soon became "the" place to live in Ocala.

With the Victorian styles of architecture then in vogue, the district saw the construction of huge homes in the Queen Anne Revival and other styles. Over the years other types or styles were added in the Frame Vernacular, other Revival and bungalow styles. The district was home to the son of a Confederate general, leading Central Florida businessmen and even the man who is thought to have been the first to introduce Lt. Col. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt as the "future President of the United States."

To learn more, please visit

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Silver Springs & the Silver River - Ocala, Florida

One of the most beautiful places in the South, Silver Springs is a massive natural spring on the outskirts of Ocala, Florida.

Along with 24 other springs, the main or Mammoth Spring at Silver Springs feed the crystal clear Silver River, which is beautifully preserved in its natural condition thanks to the opening in 1987 of Silver River State Park. Silver Springs is also now owned by the State of Florida, but is operated as a theme park by an entertainment company which leases it from the state.

The main spring has been featured in 20 movies over the years, including such famous ones as Rebel Without a Cause and the popular James Bond film Moonraker. Pouring out an estimated 550 million gallons of water a day, Silver Springs has long been one of Florida's most famous tourist attractions. Untold hundreds of thousands have peered into its depths from glass-bottomed boats since they became a fixture there in the 1870s.

The water from the spring is joined by water from 24 other springs to form the Silver River, a major tributary of Florida's Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers. Virtually the entire length of the stream is now preserved in Silver River State Park, which provides the general public with affordable access to the beautiful river and the unique ecosystems that surround it.

This area was a key point of ignition for the Second Seminole War, in which the warriors of Florida's Seminole Nation waged desperate resistance against the U.S. Army in an effort to avoid removal west to what is now Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. The war started in 1835 at Fort King (now Ocala) when the famed Seminole warrior Osceola led an attack on U.S. Indian Agent Wiley Thompson. It would last for seven years and and considering the budget of the Federal government at the time, was one of the costliest wars ever waged by the United States.

To learn more about Silver Springs and the Silver River, as well as other places of interest in the vicinity, please visit

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Expanded Edition of "The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida" is now available

The new expanded edition of my book, The Battle of Natural Bridge, Florida: The Confederate Defense of Tallahassee, is now available.

This edition includes two new chapters, revisions of some thoughts on the tactics of the battle and expanded casualty lists. It represents a major expansion from the first edition and offers, I think, a much better explanation of the battle.

The Battle of Natural Bridge was fought along the St. Marks River south of Tallahassee on March 6, 1865, and was the last significant Confederate victory of the Civil War. As proof of this, it preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital city east of the Mississippi River not conquered by Union troops. It also preserved a large area of North Florida and South Georgia from economic destruction at the hands of Union soldiers.

The new edition is 241 pages long (plus introductory material) and covers the Natural Bridge expedition in detail. It also includes photographs, maps and a listing of every soldier, Union and Confederate, who is known to have taken part in the fighting.  The casualty lists have been greatly expanded.

To order via Amazon, please click the ad at the top of this posting.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Battle of Yorktown - Yorktown, Virginia

On October 17, 1781, one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the world was enacted at the town of Yorktown, Virginia.

A little drummer boy, braving the shot and shell being thrown by American and French cannon, climbed to the top of an earthen breastwork and began to beat out a call to parley. One by one the big guns fell silent and a British officer soon joined the drummer atop the fortifications, a white flag in his hand.

Two days later, the British army of Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis marched out of Yorktown and surrendered its arms to the allied army of Gen. George Washington. A British band played a then popular tune called "The World Turned Upside Down."  The Battle of Yorktown, the climactic battle of the American Revolution, was over. The United States of America would survive to become a beacon of freedom to people from all over the world.

The site of Washington's monumental victory is now preserved at the Yorktown Battlefield section of Colonial National Historical Park. Visitors can walk the battle lines to see the preserved forts and batteries of both armies. The site of the British surrender is preserved, as are many other key points of the battle that literally turned the world upside down.

To learn more about Yorktown Battlefield and this fascinating moment in Southern history, please visit