With COVID-19 still wreaking havoc, traveling for pleasure has ground to a halt for most of us. And yes, not to put too fine a point on it -- it sucks. Regardless, and desperate for a change of scene, Pam and I ventured out one recent Sunday for a picnic, and decided we would try some place we haven't been. That place turned out to be Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound.
Even though the park is less than 20 miles from where we live, and we have seen signage for it about a thousand times on I-95, this was our first time to actually go there.
After paying the entrance fee ($6), we proceeded on a paved road about four miles to the Loxahatchee River recreation area, where there are covered pavilions as well as free-standing picnic tables sitting under tall pines. We chose Kitching Creek Pavilion, and found a shady spot near the trail that leads to the river.
There were a few dozen people there enjoying the outdoors and it was easy for us to social distance (the newest verb in the dictionary). We had an unexpected but welcome breeze that helped tamp down the heat while we enjoyed the delicious food Pam prepared, which included her special potato salad. Yum!
Afterwards, we took the trail down to the Loxahatchee River, where we saw people kayaking and fishing. All the park facilities are wonderful, but we were disappointed that the restrooms were closed. Not sure the logic of having the park open but keeping those closed.
Doing a little research, we discovered the park has a fascinating history.
It was named after Jonathan Dickinson, a Jamaica-born Quaker merchant who had the misfortune to be shipwrecked by a storm off the Florida coast, near where the park is now located, in 1696. Captured by the Jobe Indians, he and his family, along with others aboard, were forced to make a harrowing journey some 230 miles up the coast to San Augustine. After many hardships, which Dickinson detailed in a journal, the surviving members eventually reached their original destination, Philadelphia. where Dickinson served two terms as mayor.
A nice spot for a picnic!
In the 1930s, a man known as Trapper Nelson homesteaded the land along the Loxahatchee River. The fur seller became known as "the Wildman of the Loxahatchee." When he died in 1968, the state acquired his land, and deeded it to the park.
The park was also the site of Camp Murphy, a top-secret Army radar training school, in 1942. According to Wikipedia, "the camp included over 1,000 buildings, and housed more than 6,000 officers and soldiers. The camp was deactivated in 1944, after only two years of operation. Most of the camp buildings were torn down, but some of the building foundations remain. The property was transferred to the State of Florida in 1947, and opened as a state park in 1950."
Who knew there was so much history that happened right where we enjoyed fried chicken. We definitely need to get out more!
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."