Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Leesburg Fire Bell

This 400 pound bronze bell was purchased by the Leesburg Fire Department in 1880 from the Buckeye Foundry in Ohio and it was mounted in the bell tower of the fire house. It now has a place of honor at the current fire station on the corner of Magnolia and Canal Streets and it has a lanyard for anyone to ring – it has a nice tone.

The Leesburg Fire Department had its roots in the 1860's when volunteers formed bucket brigades.The photo shows the crew with a new fire truck in 1918.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Belleview Grotto

I was riding up to Belleview to see Lake Lilian and the Belleview Grotto which I'd read about. To the east of Rte 441 in the older part of town the homes have been kept up and it is a pretty area close to Lake Lilian. Not the impression of Belleview you get when passing through on the highway.
A waterhole known as the Grotto provided Belleview with water for many years and it was once a natural wonder the city used in its promotional material. A pump at the top of the Grotto pumped water directly out of a spring fed by the Floridian aquifer to residents. Occasionally, heavy rains would wash the pump into the spring, leaving the town without water until another pump was installed. Since then the water supply has been replaced.
Today, the Grotto, in reality a deep sink hole is protected from intruders by a fence.
Climbing up on the fence and holding my camera as high as possible I managed to get this picture where you can see water at the bottom of the hole. I chatted to an elderly lady who was passing and she said when the water was flowing in the grotto you could still hear it if you were close by. She told me that the Seminole chief Osceola was believed to have hidden in the grotto and local caves during the Seminole Wars (circa 1830). She knew this to be true because she and Osceola had had a torrid affair. Then she laughed her ass off. You had to be there!