1 May 1999
Highlighting...New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach is one of the oldest settlements in North America. It is documented that in 1513, Ponce de Leon entered an inlet called Rio de la Cruz (River of the Cross) to replenish his supply of water and wood. When he entered the Inlet, he was attached by Indians and forced to sail southward. This inlet is known today as the Ponce de Leon Inlet, in commemoration of this event.
The largest single British attempt at colonization in what is now the United States, occurred here. The land, originally inhabited by Timucuan Indians, was settled in 1767 by Dr. Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician. He named the town after his wife's birthplace of Smyrna, Turkey (now known as Izmir). Dr. Turnbull obtained a land grant from the British crown in 1768. He was not looking for gold, silver or the Fountain of Youth as were the Spanish, but was more practical. He saw riches in agriculture, in crops such as corn, indigo, rice, hemp and cotton.
In 1768, 1,255 Greek, Italian and Minorcan colonists arrived to begin the massive work of transforming grassy waterlands and ponds into fertile land for growing indigo and corn. They began by widening and interconnecting existing creeks and creating a complex network of canals. The New Smyrna landscape was changed forever. Dr. Turnbull's vision benefited every future and present resident and property owner.
The failure of his colony was due to the tiny mosquito. This inlet was named Mosquito Inlet. 450 colonists were lost in the first year from disease caused by the tiny insect. The entire colony left for St. Augustine in 1777. They left behind many miles of irrigation and drainage canals, which are still in use today. Also the ruins of coquina wells, foundations and indigo vats.
In 1803, land grants were given to permanent settlers of the city, marking the first activity since the Turnbull colony left. Indian uprisings became so frequent that, for a time, the city became Fort New Smyrna and the troops were the only residents. Resettlement began again after the Civil War. In 1887 New Smyrna was incorporated, with a population of 150.
New Smyrna Beach now has a population of approximately 17,500. Located at the mouth of the Indian River Intracoastal Waterway (on Florida's East coast, just north of Cape Canaveral, east of I-95) with 13 miles of Atlantic coast beach. The beaches are some of the world's safest bathing beaches. You'll find free entertainment, sunbathing, swimming, surfing, jet skiing, wind surfing, fishing, and shell collecting. Be sure to get a brochure on the self-guided walking tour of the Canal Street area at the Visitors Information Center.
Information from: http://volusia.com/nsb/nsbfact.htm - and - http://www.cityofnsb.com/