Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Railroads, History Leave Indelible Impact on Clay

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Railroads, History Leave Indelible Impact on Clay

Article excerpt

Byline: LAURN DARM

As the county begins celebrating its 150th birthday, events such as the 16th annual Railroad and History Festival last Saturday brings some of that past to life.

"This is an adorable little town," said Nancy Forehand, the treasurer for the Clay County Historical Society, which sponsored the event. "It's wonderful, and there's always an opportunity to learn about something new we never learned before."

Saturday was one of those opportunities, she said. The Clay County Historical Society sponsored a day full of re-enactors, historical demonstrations, museum and jail tours, antique cars and, of course, a look at the red railroad caboose at the Clay County Historical Triangle in Green Cove Springs.

"This is to show a part of history not really seen anymore," said Sharlene Lane, a historical demonstrator of hand-woven shawls at the event. "There's a nice variety, and it allows people to see some of the local craftsmen."

RE-ENACTORS GAVE A SENSE OF EARLY DAYS

And there were a lot of crafts and historical demonstrators blended into the railroad festival.

Throughout the courtyard, guests could visit booths and tents to see a blacksmith at work, soldiers fencing and Lane making shawls. In addition, there were women dressed in hoop skirts and bonnets with men in uniform carrying swords or muskets who wanted to tell about their roles in Clay County's history.

Bryan Wise, for example, represented a member of the Navy from the Civil War. He said he wanted to show the public there was a Navy presence all along the St. Johns River during that time period, and the families in attendance wanted to learn more about it, too.

"It's nice to see that the community will turn out to support something like this," Forehand said. "It's nice to see a town that's trying to keep their history alive."

And there were a lot of activities for kids to engage in as well. Besides face painting, clown acts and a petting zoo, kids could try various crafts like weaving handmade pot holders. Or they could even jump into the front seat of an antique car, which is something the adults at the event also seemed to enjoy.

Raymond Smith couldn't get his eyes off a 1931 Model A Ford displayed at the festival called the Moosemobile. Bob Cook and Karl Burghart were proud to show it.

Cook and Burghart spent a year putting the car together and converting it into a pick up truck. And even though they showed the car at this event last year, this is something they said they always enjoy.

"We wanted to have a little fun," Cook said. "We wanted to have kind of a parade car, and we built one Karl could enjoy."

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTED RAILROAD'S IMPORTANCE

There will be plenty of events people can enjoy all year long as part of Clay County's Sesquicentennial, including a Clay County birthday party in May. …

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