Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Phillippe Park, 1/16/2017

Established in 1948, Phillippe Park is the oldest county park in Pinellas County (located in Safety Harbor, FL). 

It is named after Count Odet Phillippe, the first non-native settler to the county, who acquired 160-acres here in 1842. He introduced cigar making and citrus to the Tampa Bay Area. The park property was originally part of his plantation. 

An information kiosk is located near the entrance to the park where a map of the site and other relevant information is posted. 

There are eight picnic shelters, large and small, (that can be reserved online) and picnic tables throughout the park. 

We came to this dog-friendly park to enjoy the trail along Old Tampa Bay and to check out the Tocobaga Temple Mound (on the National register of Historic Places). 

The mound was built by alternating layers of shell and sand. At least one structure was on top (archeologist believe it was a temple or chief's dwelling). A ramp led to the town  (population of 400-2,500) plaza at the base. The Tocobaga people lived here from 900 AD until their demise (likely caused by European diseases brought by the Spaniards) in the late 1600s. 

Panfilo de Narvaez came here in 1528 with 400 men seeking riches (gold and silver). Only four men survived the expedition. The founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, arrived in 1567 when seeking a water route to the west coast of Florida. Thirty men stayed to establish a mission to spread Christianity. When a priest returned about a year later, all thirty had been killed and the village was abandoned

Here is a view from the top looking out to the bay. The mound was originally rectangular in shape until about 1/3 of it was washed away during an intense hurricane in 1848. Phillippe took his family to this, the highest point on his plantation during the storm, saving them. 

Stone retaining walls were constructed in 1983 on the bay side of the mound to stop further erosion of the mound. 

We walked along the beach below the mound.

Sadie got to go for a swim (always a treat) and we saw these two beauties, a snowy egret and a little blue heron

There are large shade trees as well as sabal palm trees here. Sadie had such a fun time checking out the many lizards and squirrels in the park. 

After our picnic lunch, we followed the trail from the mound to the public boat launch (about a mile). We enjoyed the sights along the way. Because it was Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, there were lots of folks enjoying the outdoors, including a couple of people in hammocks. There is a large playground for kids, too. 

This baby squirrel in a mangrove tree along the bay was just adorable!

Waterfowl were looking for lunch along the edge of the bay. Below is a white ibislittle blue heron, and great blue heron. The great blue is so majestic in flight. 

Since being in Florida the last few months, we have learned a lot about the beautiful birds here and really enjoy seeing them. This is just one of the many parks in the counties of the Tampa Bay region. I really liked this one because it had some cultural history (the temple mound) as well as wildlife and majestic shade trees. 

There is no admission fee for the park, although there is to use the public boat launch. For additional information about Phillippe Park, go to www.pinellascounty.org/park/11_philippe.htm

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