Bryant's Wharf Circa 1853, Welaka

Welaka, Florida

Indians may have enjoyed the banks of Welaka as early as 1250. James William Bryant purchased a 500-acre tract along the St. John's River in 1852 which was called Mt. Tucker. Early settlers planted acreages in Oranges. Cotton plantations were also prevalent. The Civil War changed what was becoming a nice settlement of 100 in 1860 to a mere 20 after the war ended. By June 21, 1887 the area had attracted enough people for the town to be incorporated as Welaka which was the word used by local Indians for the St. John's River.  The weather usually was mild enough in winter to allow the crops to grow, however, the "Big Freeze" of 1895 wiped out the hopes of many growers when their crops were lost over night.  Many just packed what they could and left their homes and land behind.  There was one sustainable industry, fishing, which became the "crop"of the area.  

During this time, Welaka became a resort town advertising the mineral water of the local springs.  In 1907 The Welaka Mineral Water Company was incorporated.

AquariumThe state of Florida constructed a fish hatchery in 1926.  In 1938, it was turned over to the US Goverment.  Tanks are maintained to display  fish that the hatchery raises. The Aquarian is located at the Welaka Unit.  A second unit, the Beecher Unit is about 3 miles south and contains the ponds where the fish are raised.  Three companies had been begun here, the O. H. Morris Fish and Crab Company, the St. Johns River Crab Company, and the Welaka Seafood Company and thrived.

Welaka still is much as it was in the past.  Many of the streets are still unpaved reminding us of how Florida used to be.  It is located between the eastern bank of the St. Johns River and Highway 17. County Rd. 308B accessed from Hwy 17 will bring you into town.

Other Links:    
Town of Welaka       Venomous Snakes of Florida      Welaka National Fish Hatchery      Putnam FLGenWeb                           

Frame Home

Welaka Home

Welaka United Methodist Church

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Welaka Baptist Church

Welaka Boat Shop
large Frame home

Stucco Home

Beauty Shop and Bait Shop

Welaka United Methodist Church

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Welaka Baptist Church

Fish Hatchery Ponds

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Page Created August 30, 2011
© Photos by Fran Smith

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