National Register of Historic Places
The Florida Park Service’s Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, located near Keystone Heights, Florida, was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 21, 2020. They made the designation because of the 33 historic buildings, four sites, and 17 other structures within the 1,823-acre park. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the nine stone cabins, pavilion, overlook, and bathhouse between 1935 and 1942. The buildings sit around five lakes and Gold Head Branch Creek. There is also a paved curving road system connecting the historical features with the more modern amenities. The CCC also performed road improvements and established a campground during this time. Additionally, the park is home to one of the few remaining stands of old-growth longleaf pines in Florida.
Architecture by Civilian Conservation Corps
The Florida Division of Historic Resources describes the CCC built buildings and structures in the park as featuring a “Heavy usage of rustic style with locally-sourced wood and rough-hewn stone chimneys”. Compared to other 1930s era state parks, the park is unique! The CCC work area support structures including a pole barn and maintenance shop remain standing. Other remaining historic features from the CCC days include an old in-house communications telephone pole with the original glass insulators, a blacksmith forge, latrine pits, and boundary markers.
The CCC also built the stone entry gate and New Deal-era Rustic Style architecture entry station. Inside the park, picnic pavilions, stone water fountains, foot trails, and stone access steps are additional remnants of the 1930s-era. Park guests can still picnic at original park tables! 28 original CCC built rough-hewn stone picnic tables sit around the parking lot at Little Lake Johnson! You can also see heart pine wooden picnic tables that remain under the original CCC built pavilion at Pebble Lake.
The second period of development began after WWII including the addition of more structures. Picnic tables, picnic shelter pavilions, a recreation/concession building, a sign shop, five cabins, and two residences, were all built between 1950-1960. Distinctive 1950’s-era structures are still in use today! These include the Ravine Trail stairways and the terraced walkway extending to the concession building.
Gold Head Branch State Park
The park is a Clay County treasure that has been meticulously preserved for 85 years. “This is the greatest honor for a historic site, and we are pleased that Gold Head Branch State Park has preserved their historical assets so that many people can enjoy them for years to come, “said Chairman Gayward Hendry.
“Gold Head Branch State Park is a favorite destination for both locals and visitors because of its significant history and natural beauty,” said Commissioner and Tourist Development Council Chairman, Mike Cella. “Attractions and accommodations showcasing our area’s natural beauty and small-town charm are vital during this time when locals and visitors want to get outside and explore.”
Learn more about Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park here!
Clay County, FL is located southwest of Jacksonville and nestled along the beautiful St. Johns River. More than 219,000 residents enjoy a quality of life here that meets their desired pace and unique interests. Clay County has a business community that is 4,400 strong. Industries leading in information technology, manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences, aviation and defense, and logistics and distribution are here to serve you. Clay County welcomes you to enjoy the exquisite natural beauty, unique history, and the small-town feel only found here.
Photos provided by Clay County Florida
Looking to visit another State Park or beach with your furry friends? Check out our favorite dog-friendly beaches and parks here!
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