A museum started by seashell collector St. Clair Whitman also honors the legacy of John Muir’s travels through Florida on foot at Cedar Key Museum Historic State Park. In 1867, naturalist John Muir followed the path of the Florida Railroad on his Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf of Mexico, ending at the Cedar Keys.
Location: Cedar Key
Fees: roaming the grounds is free; museum admission $2
Open: Grounds open 8 AM until sunset daily. Museum open Thu-Mon 10-5
Leashed pets welcome
Soon after arriving, Muir fell ill with malaria and spent several months living in the village, which had a booming pencil industry. The fine southern red cedars and white cedars growing on these scattered islands throughout the shallow estuaries created by the Suwannee and Wacassassa Rivers made the perfect housing for pencil leads.
Muir departed by boat to Cuba while Cedar Key was in its heyday. Thanks to its remoteness along this forgotten Florida Coast, it’s still a charming village full of historic architecture and a reliance on the salt flats for a living. When St. Clair Whitman, a colorful local man, started his own personal museum of artifacts and seashells, that history was captured for the first time. It became Cedar Key Museum State Park in 1962.
Whitman’s house, restored to reflect the 1920s, is open for tours. A nature trail leads out to the estuary for excellent birding and views of the flats where Cedar Keys’ newest maritime industry, clam farming, thrives.
Explore the park
- Cedar Key Museum Nature Trail- A short nature trail – slightly more than a quarter mile – loops out to the edge of the estuary behind the Whitman House at Cedar Key Museum State Park, showing off the landscape that John Muir saw at the end of his thousand-mile walk to the Gulf.