Thursday, November 10, 2022

Whining About Carney Island

Oh no - not Carney Island again! I just left home and rode 8 miles south to the ride start and now we're going back north past my home to Carney Island before we head south again back past my home to the start following which I'll ride north back home. Deja vu over and over and over again.

So what do we know about Carney Island. For a start it isn't a real island, it's a peninsula separating Lake Weir from Little Lake Weir. For a long time it was known as Orange and Lemon Islands but that changed after 1875 when Captain John L. Carney & his brother purchased the property and it became known as Carney Island. The brothers logged out the area and developed a 25-acre orange grove and were responsible for propagating several new varieties of citrus, including the Parson Brown orange.

Parson Brown Oranges

The Carney groves expanded and flourished and they even had their own packinghouse on the east side of the property on Lake Weir. From there a steam boat was used to carry the citrus across Lake Weir to the railroad and also tow timber across to the Stanton Saw Mill.

In 1960 Carney Island was bought by the Coca-Cola company who produced juices under the name Minute Maid. In 1990 Marion County was able to buy the 750 acre property under favorable terms to develop the park which we now enjoy. It includes sandhill islands, causeways, wetland systems, beaches, and new boat ramps and facilities.

And, several orange groves still survive on the east side of the island.

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