Lake Panasoffkee, Florida ... Beauty in Nature

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Panasoffkee, meaning "Valley of Water" in the Indian Language, was settled around 1880.  A map in a geography book at that time showed the name of Tracy's Point printed larger than that of Jacksonville. 

Panasoffkee was known as the largest fruit center in the world.  In addition to citrus there were sugar cane mills.  Barrels of sugar and syrup were shipped north along with the oranges. In later years, Mr. Henry Marsh was well known for his cane syrup.  The King family from Cleveland, Ohio, developed 18,400 acres of grove and pasture lands.  Mr. King developed the King Orange, a large juicy sweet orange, by grating sweet stock from the King of Siam to the native sour orange trees.

There were many lovely old colonial homes along the groves and plantations where Sea Island cotton, sugar cane, corn and sweet potatoes were also grown. The rivers and woods were teaming with fish and game, and social life centered around these activities.

Pana Vista, a large plantation home on the river, was built in the late 1880s by a man named Harris, whose wife was a daughter of the White Sewing Machine family.  She didn't care for the country life, so Mr. Harris sold the home to the King family.  In 1923 Pana Vista was sold to the Knight family who enlarged it and operated it as a hotel. 

Florida's great freeze of 1894-95 destroyed most of the citrus industry which caused many people to move away.  However, the Monarch and Ventura groves, which were planted among the oak trees, were about five degrees warmer and survived.

Panasoffkee became an important turpentine center during the latter part of the 19th Century.  When the turpentine had been sapped from the trees, the lands were sold to Cummer Lumber Co. and a large saw mill was erected.  This changed the peaceful country atmosphere and the population grew to about 1,500.  Several general stores, three hotels, a drug store, meat market, two active churches, a saloon, and a school came into existence.  After the destruction of the beautiful pine and cypress trees, there came another decrease in population.  Several hundred people moved away instead of only a few families.

The winter tourists continued to come for the excellent hunting and fishing, and in the early 1920s the road was paved from Panasoffkee to the outlet bridge.