Sam’s House and Pine Island at Merritt Island, Florida
ATTENTION: If you are looking for information on Sam’s House, please read the newest blog post (March 2013) by clicking here: Sam’s House Revisited
Most people who think about the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida rarely consider the unique history of the surrounding area. To begin with, Brevard County has history tied into the Civil War, and a lighthouse built during that time period.
Secondly, the area was famous for it’s hunting and fishing opportunities. Hunt Camps were common across the area and this drew famous folks like Theodore Roosevelt to our shores. It was no easy trek to get here or stay here. Early settlers reported that there were rampant numbers of bears, panthers, and large gators at every turn. Not to mention the constant swarming of mosquitoes and no-see-ums. That didn’t seem to stop them though, and before long, small settlements were popping up all over the place. When the land for the Kennedy Space Center was acquired there were several small towns that were removed to other places or simply left behind as ghost towns. Cemeteries from these settlements that existed into the mid 60’s are still there and accessible on the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and in restricted areas of the space center.
But I digress, and back to Sam’s House it is. Sam’s House is registered as a historical place of importance as shown on the plaque (a large picture is at the bottom of this post). Part of the house was moved from Titusville by floating it down the river. Now it is slated to be a learning center/museum to open sometime soon. Surrounding Sam’s House is Pine Island, a Brevard County EEL’s program area managed in conjunction with the St. John’s Regional Water Management District. Pine Island is unique for many reasons. It’s a treasure trove for anthropologists, archeologists, and even paleontologists. Mostly now, it used as a hiking and kayaking area, taking it’s visitors through some of the oldest cut channels on the eastern seaboard, and over an area that has been inhabited for so long that no one is willing to say who or when people started living there. I should take a moment to mention that while it is an area rich in artifacts it is a federal offense to remove anything without special permits given to select people by the State of Florida.
Pine Island, while so close to the technological wonder of the Space Shuttle is a walk back in time. The only reminder that you aren’t a pioneer is the sprinkling of trash and signs about the trails and the cut paths to walk over. Other than that it’s easy to feel our ancestors wonder and trepidation of pushing into the swamps. For me that’s the cake and everything else; well is all just the icing. For photographers this might not be heaven, but for explorers, here is your slice.
For More Information on Pine Island, Sam’s House, and Brevard County history I have added a few links.
- A brief introduction to Brevard County history.
- Mosquito Beaters: Preserving Brevard County History
- Google Map of Pine Island
- EEL’s Program Pine Island Recreation Guide
- Indian River Archeological Society: Pine Island Conservation Area Archeology
- Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
- Florida Division of Historical Resources