Home > Floripedia > Islands, West Coast
Site Map

Islands, West Coast

Geography of Central Florida


This includes the Cedar Keys archipelago in Levy County, the St. Martin's Keys and other small rocky islands along the coast of Citrus and adjoining counties, and a narrow line, of barrier-beach islands (the Anclote Keys, Long Key, etc.) lying from half a mile to three or four miles off shore in Pinellas County; the whole covering perhaps not more than ten or twelve square miles.

The Cedar Keys islands are mostly of sand heaped up by the wind (to a height of about 45 feet on Sea Horse Key), but there is considerable calcareous material also, in the form of shell fragments. Between them and the mainland the water is very shallow and dotted with innumerable patches of salt marsh vegetation (fig. 3), and much of the bottom is covered with oyster bars, There is a wagon road from Cedar Key to the mainland which up to a few years ago was rather unique in being submerged twice at day at high tide. There were a few bridges across the deeper places, and between them stakes were driven along the road so that it could be followed when the tide was up.

The "keys" of Pinellas County are also very sandy, but seem to have a larger proportion of shell material than the Cedar Keys group, and there is more lime-loving vegetation. Dunes are not extensively developed.

Some climatic data for Cedar Keys and Tarpon Springs are given in Table 19, in the general part of this report. The climate resembles that of the rest of central Florida in having mild winters and wet summers, but the Gulf of Mexico doubtless makes the temperature more uniform than it is in the interior. The rarity of killing frosts is indicated by the occurrence of black mangrove at Cedar Keys and red mangrove in Pinellas County.

The principal vegetation types are the sparse coarse grassy vegetation characteristic of beaches and dunes, the salt marshes and mangrove swamps (fig. 37), scrubby thickets difficult to classify, and sandy hammocks. The sequence of the following plant list cannot be regarded as very accurate on account of the writer's limited explorations in the region, but it ought to give a person familiar with the species named a pretty fair idea of what the vegetation looks like.

Something like 98% of the trees and shrubs, but not so many of the herbs, are evergreen.

Population and Industries.

Although there are no exact figures for the population of such a small area, the density is probably above the state average, owing to a world-wide tendency of people to congregate along the coast (where the climate or topography does not interfere) to engage in fishing, commerce, etc. In 1915 Cedar Key town had 800 inhabitants and Pass-a-Grille (on Long Key), which together would make about 90 persons per square mile, even if there were no other settlements. About 70% of the population of both towns was white.

Fish of various kinds, oysters and sponges -are important products. Cedar for pencil wood was formerly cut in considerable quantities at and near Cedar Keys, but the supply is nearly exhausted now. The cabbage palmetto is or has been utilized for fiber at Cedar Keys. A considerable part of the population makes a living by catering to sportsmen and tourists, particularly at Pass-a-Grille and other resorts in Pinellas County. There is very little agriculture, but a few cattle are raised on some of the islands, and there is said to be even a dairy on Long Key.

Harper, Roland M. "West Coast Islands."
Geography of Central Florida, Apr. 1921, Pgs. 84-87


Home > Floripedia > Islands, West Coast

Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.