Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park is located in historic Flagler Beach, Florida. A few miles south of St. Augustine, this area is rich in Native American, Spanish and British cultural history. Native American midden mounds line Bulow Creek while the oldest concrete structure in America, Castillo de San Marcos is just a cannonball shot away. Hundreds of years later in the early 1800’s, the Florida sugar industry was beginning its dramatic-and often tragic climb to power and its eventual demise. Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park bares witness to that era of dark American history.
In 1821, the area looked nearly as it does today. But soon, that would change as Major Charles Wilhelm Bulow bought 4,675 acres in the tidal basin of that he named Bulow Creek. Using the dozens of slaves he purchased at the slave market in nearby St. Augustine, they cleared 2,200 acres in just a few years. Bulow’s slaves planted sugar cane. His plantation was to become one of the largest sugar producers in the southern United States.
Two years later, the Major died. His son, John Joachim Bulow took the reins of his father’s empire and ruled it with a firm but just hand. He was respected by his slaves as well as the local Indian population who were hired to bring wild game to his dinner table. The young explorer/naturalist/artist/writer, John James Audubon visited his plantation during his travels through Florida and wrote about the hospitality and generosity that Mr. Bulow had bestowed upon him and his people.
Generous as he was, slavery and the oppressive land grabbing from Native Americans, soon caught up with the Bulow family. During the Second Seminole War, outside political forces had effectively signed the death warrant for the Bulow family and the sugar industry of Florida. On the cold morning of January 11, 1836, Seminole forces attacked the Bulow sugar plantation, killing the masters, burning the structures and mill and freeing the slaves. Many black slave Seminoles joined the fight and marched further south into the Everglades where some of their ancestors still reside today.
Today, all that remains of the plantation are a few wells, concrete foundations and the walls of the once glorious plantation home. The foundations of the many slave cabins still stand testament to this awful stain on Florida’s history.
For more information on park fees, directions and other Florida state park amenities, visit the Bulow Plantation Historic State Park website here.