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2017 Southeast Trip Part 3; Crusing Hernando County

Upon arrival at my destination in Brooksville in Hernando County I had a solid day to check out some old locales and roadways that I used to frequent.  Hernando County is one of the older Florida Counties having been created in 1843.  Hernando County was much larger until 1877 when both Pasco and Citrus Counties were split off.

My first stop was at the remains of the Brooksville Army Airfield northern flank of Hernando County Airport along CR 574/Spring Hill Drive.






The Brooksville Army Airfield was a World War II airstrip that was in service from 1940 to 1945.  The Brooksville Army Airfield was a sub-command of the Orlando Army Air Base (modern Orlando Executive Airport) and was part of the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics.  My understanding is that bombers from Brooksville would typically make bombing runs out the Avon Park Bombing Range.  Rumor has it that the building along CR 574 is the remains of a munition bunker or possibly a target range.  There used to be a "TO US 19/41" sign assembly in front of the ruins but I don't know where it went.




After the Brooksville Army Airfield I did a little bit of shield collecting starting with CR 585/Anderson-Snow Road/Barclay Avenue which is a north/south County Route between County Line Road and FL 50. 





I missed the CR 583 shield on California Street but I took it up CR 572 on Powell Road.  California Street/CR 583 runs from Spring Hill Drive/CR 574 north to FL 50.  CR 572 is an east/west route starting from CR 589 at Deltona Boulevard along Elgin Boulevard.  Elgin Boulevard becomes Powell Road east of Barclay Avenue/CR 585 and continues to the Brooksville Ridge terminating at CR 541 in Spring Lake.





The Brooksville Ridge is one of the few hilly regions of Florida and has elevations as high as 301 feet on Clay Hill in Pasco County.  The Brooksville Ridge is a small Plateau mostly southeast of the city of Brooksville and contains various limestone caves.  Some of the better driving roads in Florida are located on the Brooksville Ridge but are heavily patrolled by Hernando County Sheriff.  CR 572 enters the Brooksville Ridge after crossing US 41 and the community of Powell along the railroad tracks.  Apparently Powell is a former rail siding that somehow became an RV park of the course of time.  Florida is filled with random places on the map which used to be rail sidings, farming company towns, lumber company towns, and even phosphate mining company towns.







Hernando County has saw fit to install these signs instructing you to slow down to the "suggested speed" in corners.  Florida is probably one of the worst states for driving techniques I've ever encountered.  I would attribute that to the vast majority of roadways being straight and well maintained, why would you ever need to learn how to corner?





What I really enjoy about the Brooksville Ridge huge elevation dips like this one.  CR 41 in Pasco County has a ton of them between the Hernando County line and Dade City. 





CR 572 briefly multiplexes CR 581 from Culbreath Road east to Emerson Road.  CR 581 runs from FL 50 in Brooksville south to FL 52 in Pasco County.





More hills on CR 572 eastbound.







CR 572 takes a couple 90 degree turns before terminating at CR 541 in Spring Lake.  CR 541 is signed as "To I-75" southbound and has ramp junction in Pasco County.







Spring Lake is a relatively old community which is based around a small lake of the same name.  CR 541/Spring Lake Highway was once part of FL 41 before it was turned over to county maintenance.  Most County Routes in Florida were once State Roads at one point and they generally keep their original number.  For whatever reason Hernando County adds a third digit to former state routes that have become county routes.  Other examples of this numbering convention would be CR 439 which was part of FL 39 and CR 550 which was part of FL 50.  At the Pasco County line CR 541 reverts back to just being numbered CR 41.



I took CR 576/Hayman Road west back towards US 41. 





CR 576 drops off the Brooksville Ridge and is extremely curvy west to CR 581 before flattening out.  CR 576 has a ton of traffic nanny signage trying to get you to slow down and it is actually probably warranted given how narrow Hayman Road can get.  I've heard for years that this was the original FL 420 but I've never seen a map that shows it and would not make sense given it is south of FL 50.  Pretty much anything south of FL 50 ought to be a 5XX route if it was a minor or secondary road to fit into the numbering grid.













There isn't much of note west of CR 581 along CR 576 to US 41.  West of CR 581 Hayman Road becomes Ayers Road and has an old alignment just before US 41.  Ayers is another community that really exists on paper only and is probably another rail siding.  There are some nice old abandoned commercial facilities on US 41 in Ayers that suggest that it might have been more significant in the past.





I took US 41 south to CR 578 which is County Line Road.  County Line Road is a direct western shot along the Pasco/Hernadno County line to US 19.





The only junction of note on CR 578 is CR 587/Mariner Boulevard.  CR 587 takes Mariner Boulevard all the way north to FL 50 but for some reason isn't signed on Shady Hills Boulevard in Pasco County to FL 52.





From US 19 I headed south briefly into Pasco County and jumped on northbound CR 595/Aripeka Road. 



CR 595 intersects an old stub of the West Dixie Highway just before the Hernando County line.  This particular segment of the West Dixie Highway continues south as a dirt road passing through phosphate mines to Hudson.







CR 595 northward enters Aripeka, on the Pasco County side before Hammock Creek is the 1952-1962 Aripeka Post Office.  Aripeka has been around since the 1880s and has always been on the Pasco/Hernando County line.  Supposedly Babe Ruth used to visit Aripeka to fish back in the 1920s but the stories are somewhat frivolous in nature.  The graveyard for Aripeka is actually a couple miles inland to the east on Hunters Lake.









Entering Hernando County CR 595 becomes Osowaw Road along the hammocks on the Gulf and continues back to US 19.  I took CR 597 which continues north along the coast to CR 550.







CR 597 runs on Shoal Line Boulevard and passes through Hernando Beach which really is just a collection of RV parks and Marinas for residents of nearby Spring Hill.  My Mom was actually rear-ended years ago by someone on US 19 which resulted in a hit-and-run.  She actually followed the other driver out to the Hernando Beach Motel which led to a pretty spectacular arrest.





In Weeki Wachie Gardens CR 597 has a couple 90 degree turns before terminating at CR 550.






CR 550 is signed on Cortez Boulevard and was once part of FL 50.  The only major junction is with CR 495 which is the Pine Island Causeway.  The building ahead is the Bayport Inn which is probably the only remaining commercial structure in the community.





Bayport proper is two miles west of the Bayport Inn.






CR 550 and Cortez Boulevard end at Bayport Park.  Bayport is a ghost town on the Gulf of Mexico and was once the County Seat of Hernando County from 1854 to 1855.  Bayport was a port of entry to Hernando County via the Gulf and didn't start declining until the 1880s when railroad service was routed to Brooksville.  Today there isn't much left in Bayport other than obvious dredge cuts in the coastal hammocks that were probably ports and canals.









I took CR 550 back east to CR 495.









The Pine Island Canal/CR 495 isn't substantially long and travels to the community of Pine Island and ends at the Pine Island Beach Park.  Pine Island is one of the view usable sandy beaches in all of Hernando County and has white sands pretty much as would be expected along the Gulf. 













The Pine Island Causeway does intersect the interesting one-lane Bayou Road which circles back to CR 550 near the Bayport Inn.  There are some old historical maps showing a city street grid near Bayou Road when Bayport was inhabited.  Apparently Bayou Road is now used by local fisherman and retirees. 











I wrapped the day up by driving east on CR 550 to FL 50.  There is actually more weird stuff north of FL 50 like the saga of the Centrailia ghost town and Croom, but I didn't have the time revisit everything I wanted.


A map scan from 1956 shows several of the Hernando County Routes as state highways.  Interestingly it seems that CR 495 to Pine Island and CR 597 might have been part of a larger FL 595.  FL 50 is shown continuing to Bayport along with FL 39 and 41 in Hernando County.

1956 Florida State Highway Map 

The website of fcit.usf.edu has some excellent vintage maps of Florida Counties.  These scans are from Hernando County in 1936 which show the pre-1945 State Road numbers and the original path of US 19 multiplexed on US 41.

1936 East Hernando County

1936 West Hernando County


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