ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins
Established by U.S. Senator David Levy Yulee, the
steam-powered sugar mill was a major source of
supply for the Confederate armies.
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins
Built in 1851 by the labors of
69 slaves, the mill turned
cane from the Margarita
plantation into exportable
Ruins of a Plantation Mill
The surviving machinery of
the Yulee Sugar Mill includes
the heavy rollers that once
squeezed the juice from
stalks of sugar cane.
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins
Park interpretive signs help
visitors understand how the
sugar mill operated and
explain more about Yulee's
antebellum plantation.
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park - Homosassa, Florida
Ruins of a Florida Empire...
The Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State
Park in Homosassa preserves a small
reminder of the once remarkable empire of
David Levy Yulee, Florida's first United States

Although he owned tens of thousands of
acres of plantation land in Florida, Yulee
picked the Homosassa River area north of
Tampa Bay on the Gulf Coast as his primary
residence. His 5,100 acre sugar plantation
there was called Margarita and was
managed from a home on nearby Tiger Tail
Island (just downstream from present-day

Yulee also owned vast lands across North
Central Florida and maintained other homes
in Fernandina and what is now Yulee. In
addition to his planting and political interests,
he was a visionary entrepreneur who saw the
benefits of a cross-Florida railroad that would
link Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast with
Fernandina on the Atlantic. Completed on the
eve of the Civil War, the railroad provided a
quick and easy way for cargo to be moved
across the peninsula rather than around
Cape Florida by ship.

The Yulee Sugar Mill began operating in
1851 to process the sugar cane grown by
Yulee in the rich lowlands along the
Homosassa River. The machinery was
brought in by ship from New York and
included a state of the art steam engine
which drove the grinding machinery.

Using the labors of 69 slaves, Yulee built the
mill of hewn Florida limestone, brick and
wood. In addition to the steam-operated
grinding or pressing rollers, it also included
large kettles for cooking down the juice
squeezed from the sugar cane.

By the time of the Civil War, the Yulee Sugar
Mill was employing the labors of more than
100 slaves when in full operation. Sugar was
exported from the Homosassa River to ports
all along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts.

Elected to the U.S. Senate again in 1855,
Yulee was serving in Washington when the
clouds of the Civil War loomed over the
nation. He attempted to aide his home state
by securing information on the quantity and
type of military stores housed in Florida's
forts and arsenals and, in a move that drew
the ire of Northern officials, urged the seizure
of the U.S. Arsenal at Chattahoochee by state
Resigning his post in the U.S. Senate, Yulee
went home to Florida. Although he served for
a time in the Confederate Congress, his
primary role during the Civil War was as a
businessman and industrialist. His railroad
was brought into operation in March of 1861
and the sugar mill on the Homosassa was
devoted to the production of sugar for the
Confederate armies.

In May of 1864, the Union navy made a raid
up the Homosassa River to Tiger Tail Island
after being fired upon by Confederates there.
A building containing Southern military
supplies was set on fire and the flames
spread to Yulee's home. In their reports of
the affair, U.S. Navy officers gave the
"accidental" burning of the Senator's home a
light-hearted treatment.

The mill escaped damage in that raid, but fell
into ruin after the Civil War. Partially restored,
it is now the center-piece of the picturesque
little Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State
Park. To reach the park from U.S. 19 at
nearby Homosassa Springs, turn west onto
Yulee Road and follow the brown and white
signs 2.5 miles to the park, which is free to
To learn more, please click here to visit
the park's official website.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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