Joan and I have been coming to the Daytona Beach area since we were teens. As time progressed, we usually hung out at the beach with the kids and rarely ventured out to explore. Now that Joan and I are in the middle of the iLoveRVlife adventure, we’re returning to some of our favorite places and stretching out to find interesting sites we’ve missed in the past. Today, we found two of Florida’s 1830’s Sugar Mill Ruins, the Dunlawton Sugar Mill and theCruger-dePeyster Plantation, both minutes from the campground and beach area.
Dunlawton Sugar Mill Plantation
The Dunlawton Sugar Mill Plantation is minutes from Daytona Beach. The plantation was purchased in 1832 and produced sugar and molasses until 1835 when the Second Seminole Indian War began. During the war the mill was burned down and wasn’t rebuilt until 1849. Again the mill was destroyed during the Third Seminole Indian War and never returned to sugar production.
The property passed through several hands, was later divided and sold off into smaller lots. During the 1940s and 50s the property was converted into an amusement park called Bongoland. There are remnants around the property with a number of concrete dinosaurs found in the gardens. With the closing of the amusement park, the property sat neglected for a number of years and fortunately was bequeathed to Volusia Country in 1963.
In 1985, the Botanical Gardens of Volusia leased and breathed new life into the old mill property now as the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens. Great care has been taken to protect and display the old mill along with the development of the beautiful gardens and trails.
The Cruger-dePeyster Plantation is now part of the Volusia County, FL park system. Just a short drive south from Dayton Beach and minutes from New Smyrna Beach, the mill ruins provides another peak into old historic Florida from the early 1800’s. The mill began in 1830 with the purchase of 600 acres by Henry Cruger and William dePeyster. The mill operated until 1835 when it was burned down during the Second Seminole War. The equipment and crusher was moved to the Dunlawton Plantation, but this plantation was also burned later during the war.
The site today contains the ruins of the plantation. Many of the outer coquina walls are still standing providing a glimpse of the architecture and size of the mill.
Both the mill ruins, gardens and trails are a wonderful place provided at no cost to the visitor to enjoy the early history of old Florida rarely seen.
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