Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Stay in Sanford

We needed to find a place that wasn't too far away from DeBarry, Winter Park and Orlando.  We have friends in each place and didn't want to camp too far away.  But we didn't want to pay the high $$ for some campgrounds.

The State Parks were full for the 7 days we wanted to stay, but we found a small commercial campground that worked fine:  Twelve Oaks RV Resort in Sanford.  We had full hookups, a level site, access to internet and our phones worked fine.

From there, we got took day trips to Mount Dora and Sebring before checking out the local museum in Sanford.

At the end of town not far from the Sanford Harbour Marina on the edge of town, we found the Sanford Museum:

- Henry Sanford was born into wealth and prestige in 1823. He traveled in Europe as a young man and obtained a law degree from the University of Heidelberg. He was Abraham Lincoln's diplomatic appointment in March 1861.
- He purchased a large tract of land in 1870 near Fort Mellon at the convergence of the St John's River and Lake Monroe.  He saw the potential of the area as an economic hub and transportation center for Central Florida.
- In 1880, the railroad came to Sanford along with the city building its first hotel.  It had all the infrastructure it needed to become "the Gateway to Southern Florida".

Sanford moved to the area and cleared land for groves of citrus fruit.  He imported over 140 varieties looking for those that would adapt to the climate.  His biggest grove he named Belair.

I had never heard of Sanford until we looked for places to camp to be near our friends in the area. Some things we saw and learned after visiting the museum:

The museum was a fairly good size with three large rooms of artifacts.

 There were quite a few items on display commemorating the life and impact of Henry Sanford
As an emissary of the U. S. Government to Belgium, Sanford attended many functions where military attire was the order of the day.  He was was not in the military but obtained the rank of Major General along with the appropriate uniform for his social functions.  He retained the title 'General Sanford' after his service in Belgium.

Former president U.S. Grant was traveling in Florida at the time and participated the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the railroad terminal.
Sanford's great winter and spring weather made it a good site for Major League Spring training.  In one noteworthy game, (March 4, 1946) Jackie Robinson made his major league debut breaking the color barrier for the first time.
Due to segregation practices at the time, this caused the local sheriff to request he not complete the game after his first and only 'at bat'.  He was escorted from the field and there was no incident.

Later in the 1970's, baseball great Tim Raines was drafted by the MLB Montreal Expos.  He was born and raised in Sanford and had a successful major league career.
We loved this city museum and learned more about Florida's history.  Another part of the country that owes a large part of its early growth to the arrival of the railroads.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


  1. Nice to hear good things about Sanford, we got tainted to the town by the big media Mr Z event. So it was not on our list of places to visit. Great post, enjoyed it.

    1. No evidence of all that in the community. Pam had to remind me this was where it all happened.