Scenic USA - Florida

Beehead Ranch House

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Beehead Ranch House, Fort Christmas Historical Park - Christmas, Florida

Photos by Ben Prepelka

          First thoughts of the Sunshine State are directed toward tourism, such as Disney World, Beehead Ranch Seeder - Fort Christmas Historical ParkSpace Coast rocket launches and beautiful tropical beaches. Under this thin veneer lies a state that's geared toward agriculture and ranks 15th in the nation when it comes to ranching and cattle production. By the mid 1800s, when the railways moved through the state, Florida's roots in ranching and agriculture were firmly in place.
     Here at Fort Christmas Historical Park, visitors will not only find a full scale replica fort from the Seminole War period, but seven restored historic homes dating from the 1870s through the 1930s. Featuring century old architecture of East Orange County, these Florida Cracker homes and farm buildings are furnished with period pieces that illustrate rural farm life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
     Pictured here is the Beehead Ranch House, a true cracker home with a most fascinating name. In the early 1900s, the Tosohatchee Ranch Company worked the land in eastern Orange County. The Native American name Tootoosahatchee, a Seminole and Creek Indian term meaning Chicken Creek, is the root word for Tosohatchee, Beehead Ranch Pantry - Fort Christmas Historical Park used to describe a section of the county and today's wildlife management area. And not far from Tootoosahatchee Creek in the St. Johns River Basin, the Beehead Ranch House was built for a Tosohatchee ranch foreman and his family. This central-Florida cracker style home, built in an area covered with sable palms and huge live oak trees, was typical for the times. Built of yellow pine under a large oak tree and raised up over a crawl space, the simple floor plan kept the house as cool as possible during long periods of Florida's summertime heat and humidity.
     In explaining the Beehead name, here among one of Florida's many oak hammocks it's common to find native honey bees building their hives in the hollows of a live oak tree. When this was coupled up with cracker term for a group of trees, head, the Beehead name was born.

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