Cedar Key, Florida--A Study of Time and Place, Boom and Bust


  • Harry J. Schaleman, Jr.


Cedar Key, one of the numerous barrier islands that fringe the upper Gulf coast of West Florida, has had its periods of growth, decline, and (perhaps) revival. Site, situation, and timing combined to nurture and later stifle the development of this small port. Romance, legend, lore, and fiction cloud the search for authenticity (Thompson 1975). During the boom decade of 1875-1886, Cedar Key expanded in population, prosperity, and prestige until, as a city of nearly 2,000 people, It had important sea links with Havana, Key West, Mobile, and New Orleans (Fishburne 1982a, p. 19). It also served as terminus for the only trans-peninsular railroad in Florida. By the turn of the century, however, the town's fortunes had reversed, and the community assumed the role of a small fishing village of approximately 700 people--a status relatively unchanged today (Fishburne 1982b, p. 52).