The springs at the Park already played an important role in the early 1800s.
A gentleman named Joseph Obida Hale, from Vermont, moved his family to Hernando Co., Fla., in 1842, and settled
at Homosassa. His occupation being that of a millwright, was an important one in pioneer days. He was engaged by
U.S. Senator David Yulee to construct the old Yulee Sugar Mill, In 1851, 69 workers built the Yulee sugar mill, using expensive machinery imported from New York.
The ruins are today one of the interesting historical landmarks of Florida. An entrepreneur, David Levy Yulee’s
venture consisted of a prosperous 5,000 acre sugar plantation near the Homosassa River and his sugar mill refinery
was only about 2 miles from what is now the Wildlife Park. Yulee had about 100 slaves that worked the sugar cane fields. Life along the Homosassa River was peaceful.
When Florida seceded from the Union, Yulee furnished sugar to the Confederate solders and used barges to transport it to the railroad he had built from Fernandina to Cedar Key, Florida. The Union soon learned about the railroad and ships landed at Cedar Key and blew up the telegraph office and depot and captured two of the 14 freight cars. Yulee then had to use wagons to get the sugar out of Homosassa and send it to the troops.
The Federal Navy then sailed to the mouth of the Homosassa River and sent troops by smaller boats up the Homosassa River to Tiger Tail Island, where Yulee’s plantation home was located, and burned his home, “Margarita”, to the ground. They did not go any further up the Homosassa River because of fear that they would be bottle necked and killed. The Sugar Mill was not destroyed, but Yulee discontinued operating the mill. He never returned to Homosassa.
The Sugar Mill Ruins (above)
are now a State Historical Site. The picture above was taken in the early 1920s.
Above is a picture of Tiger Tail island during the early 1900s, showing the remains of David Levy Yulee's mansion, “Margarita”. During the Civil War in May of 1864, a Union Naval attack destroyed Yulee’s mansion on Tiger Tail Island on the Homosassa River.
William D. Harman, the great grandfather of C. Carlis Harman, Postmaster retired of Homosassa, moved his family to Tiger Tail Island in the late 1890’s and built his home just west of the ruins of Yulee’s mansion. The boat dock/house can be seen in the picture, and the Harman’s home was located in-between the trees behind the boathouse. The children playing in the river are Carlis’ great aunts and uncles.
First presented to the Citrus County Federation of Women's Club in 1923, the 6 acre Yulee
Sugar Mill Ruins site was deeded to the state in 1953. Since then the Florida Park Service has made several improvements to this
small wooded area in Homosassa, Florida. With the most recent stabilization effort of the masonry in 2006 (picture above), using the original Lime and sand mortar mix
proportions, the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park has become a true landmark of Old Homosassa.