Florida Beauties of the East Coast by Joseph Richardson, General Passenger Agent for the Jacksonville, St.
Augustine and Indian River Railway, 1892
The southern terminus of the J. St. A & I. R. Ry. is probably the best known resort on the Indian River, and fully 300
cottages and hotels are embowered in its orange groves and tropical garden. The forest trees have been left along the
river front as a wind-break for the magnificent orange groves which have made the "Rockledge Hammock" famous. The
view from the river is a charming combination of natural and artificial beauty, and is even more attractive close at hand.
Here is one of the finest hotels in the State, the "Hotel Indian River," having accommodations for 600 guests,
embowered in tropical scenery, and really one of the most attractive spots on the river. Across the blue water is the
Banana River, where flock among the coves and bayous of the Thousand Islands millions of water fowl, affording superb
duck shooting. One of the pleasant sails about Rockledge is to Fairyland, a short distance down and across the river.
This garden spot does not belie its name, and is greatly admired by all who visit it. The steamboat landing is on the
Indian River, but here comes the first of a series of surprises. From the dock a narrow canal about 100 feet long floats
the row boat into a circular lake about half a mile in width---a sparkling gem in an emerald setting. The opposite shore of
this silvery loch rises in a long slope to a considerable elevation, the whole covered with a dense mass of orange trees,
and towering above magnolias, oaks, palms and pawpaws, through which a shell walk shows white. But we must ascend
and wanter through the aisles of perennial blossoms to take in the beauties of this paradise. On reaching the top of the
ridge the Indian River is behind, but lo, and behold, at the foot of the slope in front rolls a mighty blue flood, wider even
than the river behind, and from beyond its opposite shore the murmur of the surf steals soft and lulling. This is the
Banana River, which enters the Indian River opposite Melbourne, and after miles the two rivers re-unite, forming Merritts
Island. Three green walls keep apart the ocean and the two rivers and the lake.
The owner of Fairyland has left as much natural beauty as possible and his orange grove is surrounded by a tangled
woodland. Over his cottage lofty pawpaws wave their feathery crests, and in front an India rubber tree has wound is
clinging roots in a deadly embrace around the oak which first protected it and waves its glossy branches in triumph. A
winding path leads to a sylvan park, where nature is gardener-in-chief, and gnarled oaks, festooned with moss and
decked with green orchids, shadow the scrub palmetto and grassy carpet. Through an opening in the foliage acres of
pine-apples can be seen rustling their slender spiked leaves in orderly rows. 25,000 plants of choice varieties are green
and flourishing, and the tropical pineapple and coconut region is at hand, as their first plantation gives fragrant
From Fairyland the Indian River bears the wanderer down into the heart of this land of sunshine, past Georgianna,
Tropic, Eau Gallie and Melbourne, towards Jupiter Inlet, where this waterway ends and mingles with the ocean.
The Standard Guide 1897
Rockledge is named from the bold coquina ledges which lend a picturesque beauty to the shore line. The foot walk for
several miles on the high river bank, leading through one splendid orange grove to another and past elegant mansions,
is very fascinating. There is a grand outlook across the river to Merritt's Island, which is also populous with villas, groves
and gardens. The packing house from which railways carry the orange cars to the piers, from which the fruit steamers
pick them up, the sail boats and rowboats, often manned by young ladies who feather their oars with sailor-like
precision, the pedestrian parties one continually meets on the river path, the well contented occupants of the elegant
mansions that front the river adjoining on their broad verandas, the dolce for niente leisure of the Rockledge winter
resident, the orange pickers amid the golden fruit, and the skilled landscape gardening that emblazons the walks and
grounds of the hotels with brilliant tropical flowers, all unite to make Rockledge deservedly and permanently popular with
1899 (Pennsylvania Railroad Tours to Florida 1899)
175 miles from Jacksonville, all rail via Florida East Coast Railway, or via Tropical Trunk Line to Titusville, thence by
boats of Indian River Steamer Line.
False Cape and Cape Canaveral throw their protecting arms far out into the sea, and shield the productive territory to
the south from every chilly wind. It is in this sheltered nook that Rockledge has sprung into the prominent health and
agricultural mart of to-day. It is the capital of the famous Indian River country, world-renowned for its oranges, and little
less celebrated for the quantity and variety of its game. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and delightful places
in Florida, and its attractions are yearly becoming better appreciated. The palmetto palm grows here in wild abundance,
and the effect of avenues of these graceful trees is decidedly odd and picturesque.
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