Filed Under Environment

Oak and Palm Hammock Trails

Discovering the History and Natural Environment of North Merritt Island

Settlers of all kinds, from many places, were drawn to this narrow strip of land between the Indian River and the Mosquito Lagoon. The soil there was incredibly fertile and life there was tough.

The easily navigated boardwalk trails provide two thematic circuits that take visitors into the thick hammocks, filled with wildlife and rich vegetation, that the first settlers encountered on Merritt Island in the nineteenth century. Close by is the site of the first citrus grove established in the early 1800s by Douglas Dummett, who pioneered the grafting of sweet and sour varieties of orange to produce the “Indian River orange” that made this area famous. Wild orange trees can be observed throughout the trails. Before the expansion of the Kennedy Space Center, this northernmost area of Merritt Island was dotted with farming and fishing communities that took advantage of the rich environment. Among them were a number of African American settlements, founded by arriving homesteaders after the Civil War. Unfortunately, few remains of those early settlements have survived.

Audio

Sandra Campbell McMillan speaks about her family's life on Merritt Island Excerpts from an Oral History interview conducted by Roz Foster August 27, 2004

Images

The thick vegetation of the hammock Source: Photo: Coherit Associates
A wild-growing orange tree in the midst of the hammock Source: Photo: Coherit Associates
Dummett Grove Historical Marker Source: Photo: Coherit Associates
Remains of the Dummett Grove Source: Photo: Coherit Associates
The Campbell Home at the settlement of Clifton Source: Ed Kindle and the North Brevard Historical Society and Museum
Watton Home at the settlement of Clifton Source: Ed Kindle and the North Brevard Historical Society and Museum
Dummitt 'Castle' In 1873 after the death of Douglas Dummitt, the Duke of Casteluccio, Eicole Tamajo, and the Duchess (Jennie Anheuser of the famous beer brewing family from St Louis), purchased Dummitt groves and constructed an elaborate mansion with three story, octagonal rotundas by the architect J.J. Conwar of New York. After its completion in 1881, guests from all over the world came to hunt, fish, ride and play tennis at the "Villa Castelluccio," which became widely known throughout the area as "Dummitt’s Castle". Following the death of the Duke of Castelluccio the structure was sold and converted into a hunting lodge. The groves remained productive until 1916 when they were left unattended for many years. With the purchase of the property by NASA, the structure was moved to Titusville. It was destroyed by fire in 1967. Source: Brevard County Historical Commission

Location

Max Brewer Memorial Parkway, Merritt Island FL | Hours: Dawn to Dusk Admission: Free Amenities: Parking, interpretive signs, paved trails and boardwalk, visitor’s center 1.2 miles away with restrooms.

Metadata

“Oak and Palm Hammock Trails,” Explore Historic Titusville FL, accessed December 3, 2022, http://history.titusville.com/items/show/11.