|1823 map showing part of original Old Spanish Trail|
Road from Mt Vernon Ferry (Chattahoochee) to near Marianna is the original.
Please click here to see the full list as it is unveiled.
Jackson County is blessed with a series of roads that could rightfully be called "Old Spanish Trails." There is the old Pensacola-St. Augustine Road, which followed the approximate route of today's State Highway 2. Early maps also show a road running up the west side of the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers along the route of today's River Road (Highway 271). And, of course, today's U.S. 90 is often called the Old Spanish Trail. There also is a county road connecting Sneads, Grand Ridge, Cypress and Marianna named the Old Spanish Trail.
So which of these was the original or "real" Old Spanish Trail? The answer might surprise you because it is "none of the above."
|Apalachicola River at Chattahoochee Landing|
The Old Spanish Trail crossed the river here south of the bridge.
|Where the Old Spanish Trail crossed the Apalachicola|
According to the accounts of early Spanish missionaries, soldiers and explorers, they crossed the Apalachicola River between today's Chattahoochee and Sneads by dugout canoe. Their route came down a natural gully cut into the steep bluffs to today's Chattahoochee Landing Park. From there they paddled across to the Jackson County shore at a point just south of today's U.S. 90 Bridge.
The original trail led west through the vast floodplain swamps along a still visible trace below Victory Bridge to the high bluffs south of today's Apalachee Correctional Institution. From the point it intersected with high ground, it turned almost due north and followed the ridge up across U.S. 90 to today's West Bank Overlook Park at the western end of the Jim Woodruff Dam.
|Lake Seminole from the site of Mission San Carlos|
Mission San Carlos is now a stop on the new Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail, a 150 mile driving tour that links eleven Spanish colonial sites. A guidebook is available at the historic Russ House and Visitor Center in Marianna and an informational kiosk will be erected soon at West Bank Overlook Park.
|Section of original Old Spanish Trail along Reddoch Road|
From that intersection, the route of the original trail is followed by Reddoch Road (Highway 164-A), a paved county road that leads northwest from Highway 69 to its intersection with Blue Springs Road (Highway 164).
Providence Church Road and Reddoch Road combine to form the single longest stretch of the original Old Spanish Trail that can be driven by car in Jackson County today. The route leads through the beautiful rolling hills north of Grand Ridge and past numerous ponds and small lakes, some of which were described by Spanish explorers.
|Old Spanish Trail kiosk at Blue Springs|
The trace of the original road is in the background.
On the left just past the booth where visitors to the park pay their entrance fees an old road can be seen deeply cut into the hillside overlooking the spring. This is a rare surviving segment of the actual Old Spanish Trail and is now Tour Stop #2 on the Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail. A new interpretive kiosk is in place there.
Tour Stop #1 on the driving tour is Blue Springs and another new kiosk has been built overlooking the historic spring.
|Andrew Jackson marker at the Natural Bridge of the Chipola|
Florida Caverns State Park
The Spanish referred to the vast floodplain swamp of the Chipola River as the "great forest of Chipola." Tradition that the name comes from the Choctaw word for "sweet water" is not correct, as the Indians who lived in the area during the 1600s were Chacato and not Choctaw. Most of the Chacato later merged with the Alabama-Coushatta people who then lived among the Upper Creeks.
The main group of this band now lives in Texas, although some descendants reside in Oklahoma. The exact meaning of the word in their language is not known.
|Blue Hole Spring at Florida Caverns State Park|
The original trail passed a large cave several miles northwest of Marianna where the Spanish mission of San Nicolas de Tolentino stood in 1674-1675. This cave has not been identified by archaeologists and could be any one of several near today's intersection of Highway 73 and Union Road.
The Catholic church at San Nicolas was the site of the first Christmas service in what is now Jackson County. Established in 1674 at the Chacato village of Atanchia, the mission only survived for about one year. Spanish accounts indicate it stood at a cave large enough to hold 200 people and inside of which a natural spring or karst window produced a stream of water that flowed from the "living rock."
|Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail kiosk in Cottondale|
A military expedition followed this section of the Old Spanish Trail in 1677 on its way to attack a fort held by Chisca (Yuchi) Indians somewhere in present-day Walton County. The history of that raid is interpreted by Tour Stop #11 on the Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail. A new informational kiosk for the stop stands next to U.S. 231 in the parking lot of Cottondale City Hall.
An important part of American history, the Old Spanish Trail is commemorated by U.S. 90 today. Its real path is an important part of the new Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail. You can learn more about that driving tour at http://visitjacksoncountyfla.com/heritage/spanish-heritage-trail.
Be sure to pick up a free guide booklet at the historic Russ House in Marianna and enjoy doing some exploring of your own!