Florida State Parks 75th Anniversary Logo
Open grassy forests of longleaf pine are home to many native plant and animal species, including more than 74 protected species. A purple-flowered pickerelweed grows within the cypress dome in the northwest section of the Preserve. This threatened hooded pitcher plant growing in the Preserve¿s wetlands is a carnivorous plant, trapping and eating insects for food. A red-cockaded woodpecker checks out a possible home in a man-made cavity built to encourage nesting in the park.
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park
A scenic view of the St. Sebastian River¿s south prong ¿ where folks bring canoes and boats to enjoy the scenery and fishing.

History and Culture

During the Second Seminole War, the Hernandez-Capron Trail was built to link St. Augustine with Fort Pierce at St. Lucie. After the war, the new road allowed settlers to move into the Brevard/Indian River area. Ranchers used the road to move cattle until the 1970s. Around 1889, the Herndon family settled this land. Their homestead was burned in the early 1940s. Other families have built homesteads here, but none remain. The land has been used for growing citrus, ranching, turpentining and logging. The state began acquiring land in 1995.

A 1936 photo of Engine Number 103 of the Trans Florida Central Railroad.

Steam Engine

In 1911 Nelson Fell, founder of the town of Fellsmere, began canal digging projects to drain wetlands near the St. Sebastian River for farming. The Trans Florida Central Railroad serviced Fellsmere. Engine Number 103 was built in 1888 and belonged to several different railroad companies before coming to the Trans Florida Central in 1924.

Two rusted metal objects - an axle spindle and railroad tie - left behind from the railway that once operated here.

Axle Spindle

This axle spindle and railroad tie were found during prescribed burn procedures at the Preserve. Remaining segments of the Trans Florida Central Railroad - built in 1910 and also known as the Dinky Line - are normally buried in shallow depression marshes and visible only during drought periods.

A grassy area with wooden pens and a rusted tank atop concrete supports.

Cow Pens

Cattle ranching was one of the many prior industries on the land that now makes up the Preserve. The Circle F Ranch, established in 1946, included cow pens and a 5,000-pound weigh station for livestock.

This photo shows a lean-to standing in a primitive shaded area. This is one of the Preserve's horse camping sites.

Eagle Camp

St. Sebastian River Preserve has maintained the horse and ranching nature of the land for equestrian visitors by providing horse trails and camp sites. Eagle Camp, one of six ride-in camp sites, gives visitors and their horses a primitive camping experience. Eagle Camp is a five-mile ride from the parking area and features a lean-to, large paddock, campfire ring and benches.

A house with gray siding and white trim, sits in an open grassy area. The L-shaped footprint of the home is not noticeable here.

L-House

Sometimes parks are able to make use of old buildings to fulfill present-day needs. Currently the Park Manager’s residence, this L-shaped home on the west bank of the St. Sebastian River built around 1951, once served as a hunting lodge for race horse breeder Peter A. B. Widener.