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.