Near Ocala in Marion County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
Historic Florida Barge Canal Trail
Founders and Families
In 1882, John A. Cole and his family (black Americans) established Santos, naming it after a village in Brazil (South America) where they had gone to start a new life following the American Civil War.
When they returned to the United States, dissatisfied with their Brazilian venture, the Coles brought two Brazilian slaves with them, Benedict and Sirea, who adopted the family's name. They farmed and harvested timber, as did their neighbors on the land they purchased just east of where you're standing.
Business and Industry
Many businesses served Santos before the canal displaced the community. As early as 1889, Santos was a "flag station" along the track of the Florida Transit and Peninsula Railroad. Santos had two general stores and a moss gin.
J.M. Liddell operated a general store and post office. Phillip Samuel owned a barber shop. A fish market was owned by Benjamin Samuel.
Agnes Collins owned two "juke joints" (night clubs). Santos was also the hub for shipping local products to markets and its rock crushing facility
The Felder Well was a community water source and gathering point. The Roper Farm School provided kindergarten through 8th grade education, under the guidance of A. R Burrell, the principal.
The spiritual needs of the Santos area were served by the Holiness Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church which later became the Little Chapel United Methodist Church.
The game of baseball was a uniting factor for people in the Santos area. A Negro Baseball League team played here in the 1890s. The team regularly played teams from around the region, as well as other teams in the Negro League. Without regard for race or color, games were enthusiastically attended by people from outside Santos.
The original baseball diamond was located near the current field on 80th Street. In 2003, the Historic Santos Recreation Committee and the state's Office of Greenways and Trails opened the Historic Santos Recreation Area creating a lasting monument for Santos, a place where families can once again play ball with a field that is part of a modern recreation complex.
Santos was effectively eliminated as an unincorporated town when land it occupied was acquired by the government for construction of the Cross
This display site is intended to honor the many communities and residents between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico that were displaced by the government’s acquisition of land for the Cross Florida Ship & Barge Canal.
Homes and Families
Based on numerous historical accounts of life in and near this swath of land in central Florida, it's reasonable to estimate what life for many might have been like if the canal had been completed. Communities such as Santos, Florida.
Although somewhat remote geographically, these folks thrived in their own way. But businesses, industries and jobs of many kinds were eliminated to make way for the canal. Homes, stores, churches, community centers and baseball fields were no more when clearing, dredging and construction began in the 1930s. What might have been, instead, if the canal had actually been completed? Would Santos have thrived?
Business and Industry
Pine logs would still have been harvested and, by way of the canal, taken to mills to eventually be used in construction projects throughout the Southeast and beyond.
Passenger vessels of all shapes and sizes would have made their way back and forth on the CFS&B Canal, for at least a few years.
Without completion of the canal, those same products still found their way to markets by way of railroads, highways, and even air transportation. That was one of the many reasons why work on the Cross Florida Canal was halted.
Canals became outdated, obsolete. People were transported by other means. However, imagine what "river life" might have been here at Port Santos and at other venues along the shorelines of the canal when it was a "good idea" many decades, even centuries ago. It's a bygone era.
About 200 feet behind you, to the east, nearer the present northbound lanes of highway 441/301, was the former location of Calvary Baptist Church. There's a marker on the eastside edge of the woods near
Early in the last century, Spanish moss (the stringy stuff that hangs from trees in this region of Florida), was processed for use in upholstery, bedding and automobile seats. Almost directly across the highway from Calvary Baptist Church was the location for Bob Wassan's Moss Gin.
Both the moss gin and the church were displaced by the Federal government's acquisition of land to be used for constructing the Cross Florida Ship & Barge Canal.
The artesian well that served the Santos community was estimated to be 20-Ft. deep. That crystal clear drinking water resource, among many within the canal's planned boundaries, would have been in serious jeopardy of pollution by salty sea water and contamination by fuel and other polluting discharges from ships and barges had the canal been completed.
Look to your left at the four posts between the two bridge stanchions. They mark where the shorelines would have been for the Historic Barge Canal.
For ships and barges the canal would have been 250-ft. wide (blue posts) and 30-ft. deep.
When the designers had to downsize
Try to imagine the depth of the canal with each of these two plans. Look to your right at bridge stanchion #2. See the "seams" in the concrete? Those horizontal lines are 10-ft. apart.
In the mid-1930s, the artesian well that served the Santos community near here with water for drinking and cooking was said to be 20-ft. deep.
In 1998, the land originally intended to be the Cross Florida Ship and Barge Canal officially became the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. This mile-wide, 110-mile long park is truly unique and is enjoyed by millions of visitors annually.
Erected by Florida State Parks.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 29° 6.181′ N, 82° 5.382′ W. Marker is near Ocala, Florida, in Marion County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Southeast 80th Street (County Road 328) and South Pine Avenue (U.S. 441), on the right when traveling east. Marker is located along the trail Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3260 SE 80th St, Ocala FL 34480, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Canal Stopping (within shouting distance of this marker); Conclusive Federal Action (within shouting distance of this marker); Deliberate Strategy (within shouting distance of this marker); Environmental Victory Nears (within shouting distance of this marker); Opposition to the Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Protective Perspective (within shouting distance of this marker); Great Depression Public Works Project (within shouting distance of this marker); A Beautiful Place (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ocala.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Historic Florida Barge Canal Trail
Credits. This page was last revised on February 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 14, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 63 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on February 19, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.