HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Zephyrhills Has Had a Most Wonderful Growth (1911)
Started As A Colony January 1, 1910, It Now Has Nearly 1,000 People— Over 1,100 Farms Have Been Sold—Its History
This article appeared in the Tampa Morning News on Nov. 12, 1911.
Starting on New Year’s Day, 1910, the colony of Zephyrhills has grown in less than two years to a community of contented people numbering close to 1,000, and every train brings new people, either prospective purchasers or those who have purchased and are now coming to take up their homes.
This colony is a revelation to the stranger and almost as much of a surprise to the Floridian who visits for the first time. It brings forcefully to the attention of the visitor that Pasco County needed only a little judicious advertising, a truthful presentation to the outside world, to fill it with people who are looking for just such a location.
Probably the strongest proof of the rapid growth of this community lies in the rating given as late as the census takers for the 1910 census of the government made their rounds. The very latest census shows only 100 population for Abbott, the name by which Zephyrhills was formerly known. Now there are more than that many people engaged in commercial lines on the two principal streets of the town itself.
In Zephyrhills at present there is a full-fledged newspaper, The Colonist, edited by George B. Gibson, an energetic and able publisher, five general merchandise stores, one grocery, three hotels and restaurants, two barber shops, two ice cream parlors and one each of the following lines: Livery stable, blacksmith shop, meat shop, shoe shop and cement block works. There is a good graded school with four teachers and an enrollment of 100 pupils—note that the number of youth is as great as the census credits the town in population—and two churches.
Owing to the elevation of the greater area of Zephyrhills colony lands there is no serious drainage question. Drainage is natural; no puzzling problems for engineers to solve: no expensive “main ditch” and costly “laterals” to be dug. The Creator provided the water sheds that save the Zephyrhills growers all that anxiety and burden.
At Greer, one of the Seaboard Air Line stations within the colony, the elevation is 235 feet above the sea. The greatest elevation in Zephyrhills is perhaps 275 feet or more. There has not been any measurement, except at Greer.
The growth is almost wholly pine; but there is oak and a few other varieties of trees. The mill men have taken off all the trees that would make lumber. Clearing means removal of all growth left by the lumber men, and, of course, includes the removal of the stumps left by the lumber men. It is not impossible to cultivate the land without removing the stumps, but it is poor farming to leave them. They are resinous and can be burned out at odd times and almost at leisure, without much or great labor. The oak and other varieties must be dug out if removed, as they do not burn as readily as the pine; but they are not numerous, nor are they generally large. The brush does not grow very dense and grubbing that is not a serious job; but grubbing is hard work in any sort of soil. There is little palmetto, and palmetto grubbing is not, therefore, a burden to he dreaded by the Zephyrhills farmer as it is by the farmer on the low grounds of Florida. There is much of this land that a man can clear fully an acre a day ready to cultivate if the stumps are not removed.
The soil that the citrus fruit grower seeks is a red or yellow, or a brown sandy loam, mingled with clay, having a clay subsoil. The gardener seeks the same soil and finds the black and the dark gray equally good for many products. These are the soils at Zephyrhills. The man whose fields are the best for citrus fruits find them in the highlands equally excellent for plums, pears, peaches, and persimmons, which do not thrive in the lowlands as they do here; and these are immune from cold that would damage his citrus trees should cold befall. Every vegetable crop that does not demand a soaked soil—like celery—is as productive in these soils as in the black soils of the swamp regions, which are so often overflowed and thus lost for weeks to the cultivator.
J. L. Greer’s lumber mills, four miles from the town of Zephyrhills, are connected with the town by a railway that delivers lumber at Zephyrhills for $5 a car; 20,000 feet to the car; being 25 cents freight on each 1,000 feet. There is a drying kiln at the mill and a planing mill. At the mill, on board of the car, lumber costs from $12 to $20 a thousand feet, according to the kind and grade of lumber. Building hardware, doors, sash, glass, etc. can be had at Tampa or at Plant City at prices very little above the prices in the North, and not any above the prices in many parts of the West. Brick delivered on side-tracked cars at Zephyrhills, from $10 to $12 per 1,000, according to quality: lime, $1 a barrel. There is no building stone convenient enough to be economical as a building substance. Cement on track is about $1.50 to $1.60 a barrel.
Streets, Avenues, and Alleys
The avenues in the town of Zephyrhills all run east and west; they cross the railway. They are designated by numbers, not by names, from south to south. Fifth avenue is the principal east-and-west thoroughfare. It is ninety feet in width. The company has planted a row of oaks along the middle of the avenue through the central portion of the town. All the lots on Fifth avenue are 25×135, with a 20-foot alley at the rear. All the other avenues are sixty feet wide.
The railway station is on Seventh street, west, between Fourth avenue and Fifth avenue.
The streets run north and south; that is, they parallel the railway, which runs about thirty-five degrees off the compass cardinal line. Like the avenues, the streets are sixty feet wide and they are designated by numbers, beginning at the west line of the town.
Seventh street east lies on the east side of the railway; Seventh street west on the west side of the railway. This will be the main business street.
All the alleys are twenty feet wide.