Residents and visitors vacationing in the Historic City News coverage area are quick to refer to St. Johns County as a “sea” community because of the miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches for which we are so well known. But, we are also home to another community that shares the moniker.
To those familiar with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, SEA is an acronym for “Spuds, Elkton, and Armstrong”, and the area is rediscovering its historical roots as the home to many black families who provided the labor for Henry Flagler’s entrepreneurial ventures.
The culturally linked communities were founded and settled by West Africans and are home to the only recognized Geechee community in St Johns County.
Efforts have been underway in recent years to encourage cyclists, naturalists, and those who enjoy the great outdoors, that through ongoing fundraising and contributions from various organizations, the Sea Community has successfully constructed three cycling trails that run over the original railroad ties left by the Florida East Coast Railroad.
This excellent example of repurposing unused infrastructure is providing a new opportunity to enjoy these nature and cycling trails while learning another less-told part of our local history.
The background stories of families who built and worked in hotels, lived in camps while they worked on timber and turpentine farms, or toiled long hours working for Flagler’s railroad, can be learned in a traditional setting with the beautiful natural backdrop of towns, registered historic sites, waterways, and verdant woods.
The National Park Service, St. Johns County, Department of Environmental Protection, Rails to Trails Conservancy, Sea Island Loop, and East Coast Greenways have all contributed to the establishment of trail heads in Armstrong, off SR-207 in St. Johns County, where you can appreciate the great outdoors in a rural agricultural setting.
The Sea Community is hoping to see signs of economic revitalization, in part due to the trails and greenways that preserve historically significant transportation corridors. Sponsors say the trail ways encourage healthier mobile lifestyles by making available places to walk, bike, and more.
Armstrong would like to develop a stronger economy by promoting tourism, local businesses, and increasing property values. The abundant amenities support a healthier climate and environment by making alternate transportation a viable option to the automobile.
Overall, supporters say the greenway network will contribute to more vibrant community interaction, connecting people to places where they live, work and play. You can learn more about walking, bicycling, horseback riding, enjoying natural wildlife habitat, and enjoy an authentic wellness, culture and heritage tourism experience along the scenic trails of a growing Sea Community.