The History of Cape Canaveral, Florida: Growing With the Times

cape winds history part three
Mar 21 2016

The History of Cape Canaveral, Florida: Growing With the Times

We’ve discuss previously how Cape Canaveral started after millions of years underwater, talked about the early animals that used to live in the area (from camels to wooly mammoths), and spent some time talking about how the local Native American population had a significant impact on the area, especially during the time that early Europeans were coming to settle in America.

Today, we’re going to jump ahead a few hundred years to the 1800s. Douglas Dummitt moved to town, and in addition be being a sugarcane farmer, served as the postmaster for the area. What makes Mr. Dummitt special, however, is his impact upon one of Florida’s most recognized crops, the orange.

Douglas Dummitt started to experiment with wild, Spanish sour-orange trees that quickly took to the Florida soil. Using sweet orange trees, he grafted the cuttings to the root stock of his sour-orange trees, creating a breed of orange tree that would eventually survive the infamous 1835 freeze.

These trees were eventually transplanted to Dummitt Grove (part of Merritt Island NWR). In time, the size of the grove grew and grew, and around 1860, Douglas Dummitt was producing nearly 60,000 oranges each year. This helped to put the Indian River citrus region on the map, as Douglass would sell saplings to other farmers so they, too, could grow in the Indian River citrus region.

Around the same time that Douglass Dummitt was producing oranges by the barrel, 1854 saw the man-made improvements to the inland waterway system that covered the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. By improving the canal and other parts of the area, opportunities to travel the waterways greatly improved and have been in use ever since.

Not all that much changed until the space race began, but the pieces were in place for Cape Canaveral to impress the world. The area is already known for its orange production, waterways, life-sustaining resources, beauty, and weather. The next major landscape change would create the Cape Canaveral we know today.

Sharing Great Florida Coast stories from the Cape Winds Resort in Cape Canaveral,

Steve Wright

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