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Watson Wander: O’Leno State Park

From the bloggers at Watson Wander

If you asked me five years ago what I thought of central Florida I would have said, scrub pines, rednecks, and old people. Now, I would say all those things plus ancient cypress swamps, crystal clear bubbling springs, lakes and waterways teaming with wildlife, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. All of this was reaffirmed last week during our stay at the lovely O’Leno State Park.

As one of Florida’s oldest state parks, O’Leno has an interesting history that dates back to the later half of the 19th century. Back then it was the site of a small logging settlement that the residents named Keno, to advertise the gambling game that was popular in their tiny commercial center. Eventually, the logging business declined, and the church-going settlers did away with both gambling and the sinful town name. Now called Leno, the small town flourished for a number of years before its eventual collapse when the new SF&W Railroad bypassed them in favor of nearby Fort White. By the start of the new century, Leno was a ghost town.

Read the full story by Watson Wander.

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