Cape Canaveral-Cocoa Beach Historical Trailtop rated web hosting - web hosting compare prices


1....Print this file.

2....At its end, click on "rules" to see a copy of the trail rules, print it, and then click where indicated at the end of the 3-page rules and patch order form to get back to the list of Florida trails.

3....If you want a hand-drawn map showing the locations of all of the sites, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Steve Rajtar, 1614 Bimini Dr., Orlando, FL 32806.

4....Hike the trail and order whatever patches you like (optional).

Cape Canaveral-Cocoa Beach Historical Trail

Copyright 1999 by Steve Rajtar

(Note - This is not a "loop" trail, so you won't wind up where you started. To do that, you need to end with an additional walk north of approximately 7 miles on Orlando Ave., Atlantic Ave. and Jetty Dr. to Jetty Park.)

(From Interstate 95, drive east on SR 520 across the Banana River, then drive north on Atlantic Ave. and Jetty Dr., then east on Jetty Rd. to park in Jetty Park. Walk to the east end of the pier and look toward the north.)(0.2 miles so far)

North of Port Canaveral

1....North of Port Canaveral

The cape which extends into the Atlantic Ocean was first sighted by Ponce de Leon on March 27, 1513, as he searched for riches, glory and the fountain of youth. He called it Cabo de las Corrientes, or "cape of the currents". Other Spanish explorers called it Canaberal or Canaveral, meaning "place of reeds" or "place of cane".

In 1848, a 65-foot wooden tower was erected with keepers William Carpenter and John Scobie. Capt. Mills O. Burnham took over as keeper and served in that capacity until 1886, and his descendants continued as keepers until 1952.

The tower was found to be too short for the whale oil fueled light to shine sufficiently far out into the ocean. Some ships ran aground while searching for the light. A second lighthouse was begun in 1859, but the Civil War halted work on the 145-foot iron tower. During the war, it was dismantled and the light was buried to protect it from seizure. Work resumed after the war and the lighthouse was completed in 1868. It produced a light that could be seen 18 miles at sea.

It was found that the tower was built too close to the ocean, and jetties were built in an unsuccessful attempt to stop beach erosion. To solve the problem, it was dismantled and the light was re-lit for the first time about a mile from the shore in July of 1894. It was taken over by the Coast Guard in 1939, and was made an Honorary Historic Landmark by the Brevard County Commission in 1990.

In 1949-50, the Long-Range Proving Ground was created here on eight square miles of land. Areas then or previously occupied by several settlements were absorbed into the government facility.

Cape Canaveral was renamed as Cape Kennedy because of that president's interest in the space program and his visit to the cape five days before his assassination, and the name of Cape Canaveral was later restored.

(Walk west on the pier, through the parking lot, and on Jetty Rd. to Cruise Terminal 3, and look to the north.)(1.0)

North of Jetty Dr.

2....Port Canaveral

This harbor is man-made, cut and first dredged in 1953.

(Continue west on Jetty Rd. (which turns into Jetty Dr. as it curves to the south) to the intersection with George J. King Blvd.)(1.4)

Intersection of Jetty Dr. and George J. King Blvd.

3....Site of Artesia

This area was first settled in 1856 by H. Wilson and Mills Olcott Burnham.

During the 1920s, this area was called Artesia, the home of fishermen, a few retirees, and descendants of lighthouse keeper Capt. Burnham. He had come to Florida for his health in 1837, lived at Ankona Bluff from 1843 to 1847, worked at Col. Marshall's sugar cane plantation, and became lighthouse keeper in 1853. Stained glass windows in his memory are located in St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Titusville.

(Continue south on Jetty Dr. (which turns into Atlantic Ave.) to the intersection with Canaveral Blvd.)(2.3)

Southeast corner of Atlantic Ave. and Canaveral Blvd.

4....Cape Side Center

This shopping center began as the Palms Plaza, and included the headquarters of the local American Legion chapter.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave. to the intersection with Long Point Dr.)(2.5)

Southwest corner of Atlantic Ave. and Long Point Dr. (105 Long Point Dr.)

5....VFW Post 10131

The VFW chapter was installed in 1975 in the Machinist Union Building on Taylor Ave., and later that year moved into this new building.

(Walk north on Atlantic Ave. and east on Washington Ave. to the intersection with Rosalind Ave.)(2.9)

Northeast corner of Washington and Rosalind Aves. (8440 Rosalind Ave.)

6....Capeview Elementary School

This school opened in 1964 with Robert Mink as its first principal.

(Walk south on Rosalind Ave. and west on Madison Ave. to the intersection with Orange Ave.)(3.3)

Intersection of Madison and Orange Aves.

7....Site of Journalista

A group of retired Orlando journalists in the 1920s invested over $150,000 in beach acreage here, naming it Journalista. The development is now known as Avon-by-the-Sea.

(Continue west on Madison Ave., then walk south on Poinsettia Ave. to the intersection with Polk Ave.)(3.6)

Southeast corner of Poinsettia and Polk Aves. (201 Polk Ave.)


This library building was built in 1988 and dedicated in 1989. It was remodeled in 1996.

(Cross to the southwest corner and continue west 1550 feet on Polk Ave., and look north across the street.)(3.7)

North side of Polk Ave., between Poinsettia and Atlantic Aves. (110 Polk Ave.)

9....Propper Building

This two-story office building was erected in 1966. It was the first home of the public library in 1967.

(Continue west 100 feet on Polk Ave.)(3.7)

South side of Polk Ave., between Poinsettia and Atlantic Aves.

10....City Hall

A meeting at the Tropicana Juice Plant in Port Canaveral was held on March 10, 1962, and the residents voted for incorporation. Some questions were later raised about the validity of the election, and another vote was taken on June 2, 1962, again approving incorporation.

The city government had its offices in the store buildings on Monroe and Buchanan Aves., then in the Ben Kori Building, and in 1965 the present building was constructed.

(Continue west on Polk Ave., then walk south 125 feet on the east side of Atlantic Ave.)(3.8)

Northeast corner of Atlantic and Taylor Aves. (7406-12 Atlantic Ave.)

11....Ben Kori Building

This served as the city hall in 1964 and 1965.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave. 200 feet past Taylor Ave.)(3.8)

East side of Atlantic Ave., between Taylor and Fillmore Aves. (7300 Atlantic Ave.)

12....Cape Canaveral Recreation Center

The recreation center had its first home in a renovated bank building. The present facility was built in 1975.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave., crossing to the west side at the intersection with McKinley St. Continue south on Atlantic Ave., then walk west on Shepard Dr. and south on (unmarked) Banana River Blvd. to the intersection with SR 520.)(5.8)

SR 520, west of Atlantic Ave.

13....Site of Ramon's Restaurant

Mr. and Mrs. Dave Holt opened a restaurant near here in 1958, and it became a popular hangout for the press and astronauts during the 1960s. Across the street was Jake's Bowling Alley, which doubled as a church on Sundays.

(Walk west on SR 520 to the first bridge.)(6.1)

Cocoa Beach Causeway, crossing the Banana River


A 1919 election chose a route to the island called Roger's Route, which ran from the mainland south to Horti Point on Merritt Island, then east over several mangrove islands to Oceanus on the beach. The bridge opened on April 19, 1922. O.S. Worley served as the bridge tender for 13 years, collecting a toll of 20 cents for the round trip, plus four cents for each additional passenger. The old wooden bridge was torn down after completion of the Merritt Island Causeway.

(Look to the west northwest.)(6.1)

SR 520, between Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach

15....Cape Canaveral Hospital

During the spring of 1957, the Beach Community Hospital General Committee was established and the state donated submerged land here for the construction of a hospital. Dredging began in 1960 and the hospital opened on July 26, 1962.

(Look across the street to the south.)(6.1)

South side of SR 520, between the Banana River and Banana River Blvd. (450 W. Cocoa Beach Causeway)

16....Telephone Building

Southern Bell Telephone Company built this $450,000 building in 1962, replacing one it had built in 1951.

(Walk east on Cocoa Beach Causeway (SR 520), crossing to the south side at the intrsection with Atlantic Ave. (SR A1A) and continue east to the intersection with Ocean Beach Blvd.)(6.6)

East side of Ocean Beach Blvd., between Cocoa Beach Causeway and Dixie Ln.

17....Alan Shepard Park

This park was dedicated to honor this country's first man in space on October 20, 1963.

(Walk south on Ocean Beach Blvd., west on Wakulla Ln., and south on Atlantic Ave. to the entrance to Constitution Bicentennial Monument.)(7.5)

East side of Atlantic Ave., between Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach

18....Constitution Bicentennial Monument

This park was dedicated in 1988 to be a permanent reminder of the importance of the U.S. Constitution. On the reverse side is a dedication to the seven original Mercury astronauts.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave. to the entrance to Lori Wilson Park.)(7.9)

East side of Atlantic Ave., between Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach

19....Lori Wilson Park

This park is named after a former Commissioner of Brevard County (1969-72) and state representative (1972-78). Teenagers needed a place to congregate other than Kiwanis Island, where they were not wanted by the various civic clubs using that facility. The teens petitioned the county commission, of which Lori Wilson was then a member. They bought an old motel here and developed the land into a park. At the request of the teens, the park was named after Wilson, who had devoted herself to make the park a reality. In 1972, after a 4-0 vote of the commission, it was opened.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave. to the entrance to Sidney Fischer Park.)(8.0)

East side of Atlantic Ave., between Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach

20....Sidney Fischer Park

This park is named after the man who served as Cocoa Beach's mayor from 1956 until 1960. The beach and dune areas are typical of the coast's appearance prior to development and commercialization.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave. to the Holiday Inn, cross to the west side of Atlantic Ave., continue south to the intersection with Sunflower Ave. and cross to the median, and walk north to the flagpole.)(9.0)

Intersection of Atlantic Ave. and Catalina Rd.

21....Astronaut Memorial

Under the flagpole is the memorial to the original seven Mercury astronauts, showing the dates of their first rides into space. It was dedicated in 1969, and the date for Deke Slayton (7/15/75) was added later.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave. to the intersection with Minuteman Causeway.)(9.6)

Southwest corner of Atlantic Ave. and Minuteman Causeway

19....Site of Edwards Building

In the mid-1920s, Gus C. Edwards erected a building near here to house a restaurant and a real estate office, from which he directed the development of the town. On July 30, 1925, Edwards sold 425 acres of the town to Col. R.G. McFerran's New York syndicate for $1,200,000, but later got it back when they defaulted on the loan.

The building later housed the post office. During the 1950s, Oliver Haisten was its postmaster. One of the area's first restaurants, Bernard's Surf, was established here by Bernard Fischer on October 30, 1948.

(Continue south on Atlantic Ave. to the intersection with S. 1st St.)(9.6)

Southwest corner of Atlantic Ave. and S. 1st St.

20....Community Chapel

The town commission decided to build a $600 church in 1944 for the congregation that formed in 1942, and it was completed in 1948. The fellowship hall was built in 1959 by contractor and parishioner Jack Hurck. The church is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

(Walk west on S. 1st St. to the intersection with Orlando Ave. and look to the south.)(9.7)

South of Cocoa Beach

21....Road to Patrick Air Force Base

On October 1, 1940, the Banana River Naval Station was established. It was renamed in 1948 after Maj. Gen. Mason M. Patrick, the chief of the Army Air Service Corps from 1921 to 1927. The base was combined in 1958 with Cape Canaveral and the island tracking stations to form the Air Force Eastern Test Range.

(Walk north 400 feet on Orlando Ave.)(9.9)

East side of Orlando Ave., between S. 1st St. and Minuteman Causeway

22....Fire Station No. 1

The city bought this property from Southern Bell on February 2, 1983, for $185,000. A fire station was built, completed in 1984. When the fire department moved from the city hall, the old truck bays were converted to the city commission room.

(Look west across the street.)(9.9)

West side of Orlando Ave., between S. 1st St. and Minuteman Causeway

23....Police Station

In 1963, the new police station was a one-story building separated from the city hall by an alley. Later, it was connected to the city hall and a second story was added to it.

(Continue north on Orlando Ave. to the intersection with Minuteman Causeway and cross to the southwest corner.)(9.9)

Southwest corner of Orlando Ave. and Minuteman Causeway

24....Town Hall

The first substantial settlement in the Cocoa Beach area was begun by newly freed slaves just after the Civil War. They claimed all land south of the cape between the ocean and the Banana River. The homesteaders were flooded out by an 1885 hurricane. In 1888, a group from Cocoa bought the land, and it was later acquired by attorney Gus C. Edwards.

Edwards arrived in Cocoa on October 23, 1915, and was appointed its city attorney. In 1919, he hired workers from Georgia to clear a portion of the land for development. To honor the people of Cocoa, he named this area Cocoa Beach.

Cocoa Beach incorporated in 1925. In 1950, the town's offices were moved into a one-story building on this corner. However, it was so small that people had to sit outside and look in through the windows to watch commission meetings. It was torn down in 1961.

The present city hall was dedicated on March 10, 1963. During construction, temporary offices were located in a fire department building in Loveridge.

(The trail ends here.)(9.9)


Brevard County, by Elaine Murray Stone (Windsor Publications, Inc. 1988)

The City of Cocoa Beach: The First Sixty Years, by Glenn Rabac (Apollo Books 1986)

Florida Lighthouses, by Kevin M. McCarthy (University of Florida Press 1990)

Guide to Florida Lighthouses, by Elinor DeWire (Pineapple Press, Inc. 1987)

Historic Brevard, (Brevard County Historical Commission 1989)

History of Brevard County (vols. 1 and 2), by Jerrell H. Shofner (Brevard County Historical Commission 1995)

History of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, by Frank M. Childers (The Brevard Museum, Inc. 1993)

The History of the City of Cape Canaveral and the Cape Canaveral Area, by Ann Hatfield Thurm (Online Associates of Brevard 1964)

Indian River, Florida's Treasure Coast, by Walter R. Hellier (Hurricane House 1965)

Southern Lighthouses: Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, by Ray Jones (Globe Pequot Press 1989)

Tales of Old Brevard, by Georgiana Kjerluff (The Kellersberger Fund of The South Brevard Historical Society, Inc. 1972)

Click here for a copy of the trail rules. 1