In the early 1600s, Spanish explorers found Indians living here in a village called Nocoroco. Although nothing remains of the village, shell middens¿mounds of oyster and snail shells from decades of Native American meals¿reach 40 feet high at the river bank. This land became a state park in 1945.
Tomoka State Park is a prime example of an urban park. Surrounded on all sides by development and just minutes from all modern conveniences, it is far enough removed from the busy world to afford visitors the opportunity to enjoy a starry sky after dark. The 900-acre peninsula, now known as Tomoka State Park, has provided man and animal with food and shelter since its earliest inhabitants thousands of years ago. Although the land has changed over time, it still offers the chance to nourish minds and stimulate senses.
Occasionally, people need to be reminded to get away from the everyday world to enjoy nature, explore, feel the breeze, smell the forest and enjoy the beauty that only natural areas can provide. People have used this space to do just that for centuries. During the 1920s and 1930s, people came to Sunset Park, Tomoka State Park's predecessor, to swim, picnic and enjoy nature. Changes made since that time have improved access and added to the ease and usability of the park, but visitors continue to enjoy the same outdoor activities that have always been popular at Tomoka.
Following the early development of the park facilities in the 1950s, additional development in 1965 resulted in the construction of the present concession building, which for many years was a popular local restuarant. Over the years, it has become a popular meeting place for anglers to share stories of the day's big catch or 'the one that got away.' With the million dollar view provided by the elevated setting above the Tomoka River and basin, visitors can take in the splendor that has become Tomoka.
This statue, called Legend of Tomokie, was sculpted by local artist Fred Dana Marsh between 1954 and 1955. Dedicated in 1957, the statue depicts the legend of Tomokie, an Indian chief who dared to drink from the cup of the gods. The statue also reminds visitors of the Timucua people who lived along the Tomoka River long before the European colonization of Florida.
Tourism is not new to Florida or to Tomoka River State Park. Since the late 1800s, people have come to Florida to explore the state's vast open areas and to enjoy natural scenery not found anywhere else in the world. The riverboat boom was the first to introduce early tourists to the magic of the Tomoka River. During the days of the early tour boats, development along the river was minimal. These early voyages gave visitors the sense of being one with the river and offered many folks the opportunity to see a rarely visited part of the country. The steam-powered boats of yesterday may have been replaced by motorized fishing boats, canoes and kayaks, but the sense of losing oneself to nature can still be found along the Tomoka River.