Thursday, September 4, 2008

If you didn't know there is an archaeology park in downtown Daytona Beach, then you don't know Butts! Samuel Butts, that is. Ever since we heard about the park over the summer we tried to drive by, but to no avail. Well, yesterday Amber and I locked hands in Thelma and Louise fashion and pledged to not go home until we had laid eyes on the prize.

We arrived at the 29-acre park to find a large, fenced in retention pond with nicecly constructed wood plank walkways out to an "island." We followed the path and met the first of 8 interpretive signs on the island itself. Panels incased in glass (difficult to photograph) included topics on Florida Prehistory; artifacts collected by Mr. Butts including a mastodon jaw, prehistoric shell tools and pottery; and environmental panels on native butterflies and cedars.

We walked the length of the path on the "island" and discovered we were in fact on a peninsula attached to land by another parking lot closer to Nova and the Pepsi plant. Signage continued along the outer path revealing more of Samuel's biography, his dedication to researching the neighborhood, and remains of a general store that operated from the 1890s to 1920s. There were several kiosks throughout the park where you could push a button and hear Samuel himself interpret the surroundings for you.

Promoting this park is not without difficulty. Playing the part of heritage tourists ourselves, we found it very difficult to find the park or get information about it from others the historical community. I would feel a little more comfortable encouraging visitors if access to the site on the island was more limited, allowing the visitor to enjoy the signage along the outer walkway and limiting access to the island itself. However, the dedication of Mr. Butts (who is still living and playing music locally according to one on-line article) is to be commended and his reporting and recording of the site to the Division of Historic Resources is equally admirable. It's great that the park exists and was supported by the City and the state of Florida. On-line we noticed appeals for help in monitoring activity on the site. This need was evident from a broken glass pane and we noted that some of the voice boxes were in need of repair.

For those of you wishing to visit the park first hand here are some directions: head east on International Speedway (away from I-95). Continue down to Nova hang a right. Go past the Museum of Art and Science and take a left at the light at Bellevue. There were several lots to park in, but we didn't realize we were at the right place until the road hooked around and we saw clear signage for the Samual Butts Youth Archaeological Park and Recreational Trail.

One Response so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I loooove this park.....I would always walk the nice and wide walkway and enjoy the beautiful scenery in the park at the same time. I will be so happy to walk in that park again.....missing it soooo much.

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