It was less than 3 miles, but I was still scared the whole time! Learning to overcome my fear of solo hiking is going to be hard, but it’s one I am determined to do! 

Today, I decided on a trail via a few different contributing factors. One, It was one I’ve hiked many times before. Two, I knew I’d see other people on it because it’s a popular mountain bike trail. Three, I had cell service lol! And Lastly, I learned recently it was the site of a historical logging and turpentine community which housed a very large African American Community. With everything happening in the world after the horrible death of George Floyd I wanted to look outside my normal trails and see if there was something near me that had a history in the African American Culture. Low and behold (after some research) I found out that one of the trails on my list was just that! 

It was called Town of Markham, and housed many African American workers for Mr. William Markham (owner of the land and the Logging/ Turpentine Company). The community had primitive style housing, was paid very little, and food was scarce. After reading about the living conditions of the community it just broke my heart. As you hike along the trail you come across remnants of the past with small pieces of tile floor on the ground, bricks from the buildings and scrap metal. These amazing people took that hardship and turned it into the best situation they could at the time. They built a school to educate their children, a church, stores, and additional housing. Was it the best? Absolutely not, but it shows you the drive and willingness to succeed in these early communities. 

Photo Credit to “Seminole County (Black America)” by Arcadia Publishing

You can read more about this community (and others), see photos and more in the book linked here: https://amzn.to/2Anq9Fh

As I walked thru the trail system I came across bits of tile in the ground that were once a floor to a home, scrap metal from the buildings lay rusty and covered in vegetation, and bricks that somehow stood the test of time. When I look at these materials I kept thinking about the people who lived here. What was their story, who were they, and where are their families now? 

I do not know the answers to this, and there isn’t a huge amount of material about the community. 

One thing I took away from this is knowing that every time I hike a trail I need to stop and think, “Who was here before me?” Learn and do a little research about that area. See if a Native American Tribe lived on that land, early settlers, and more! I can promise you that by knowing more about the history of the trail you will appreciate the hike that much more. Knowing that people once walked where you walked (and I’m not talking about modern day). People survived where you may look at the land and say, “How?!” 

So that is my challenge for you this week. Think of your favorite hiking trail, river to kayak down, or backpacking trek and research the history fo it. Then share with me what you’ve learned! I bet you’ll find more than you could’ve ever dreamed of! 

-Crystal

LOCATION: Markham Woods Mountain Bike Trail in Sanford, FL (Historically was Town of Markham)

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