Floral City was once one of the fastest growing cities in Florida, but a bit of bad luck and the evolution of American industry forever changed the course of this town.
The year was 1889 -- and the mineral phosphate was discovered in Floral City. It rapidly changed the area's economy.
For a long time, citrus would come in on old steamboats, but after finding phosphate, things changed.
There was a boom.
Near the beginning of World War I, more than 30 mines were open and more than 10,000 people lived in town. That's far larger than its current population, and at the time, it was even larger than Miami.
So, what happened?
World War I happened.
An embargo on shipments to Germany destroyed the phosphate industry in town, causing a mass exodus of people heading south for work.
To this day, the Historic Duval House stands as a symbol of Floral City's past. It was built before the phosphate boom by J.P. Formy Duval.
Drive through the city's historic district today and you'll see it from the main road.
It's been designated a historic place and stands as the oldest home in Citrus County.
These days, Floral City is a much quieter town -- with looming oak trees and winding bike paths. It's a must-see for any traveler.
You wouldn't think it was once the site of war, but in fact, many of the Seminole War's important events happened in this area.
The famous so-called chief, Osceola, had a village just 9 miles from Floral City.
Much of this history is on display inside a museum downtown. Historians work hard to preserve the city's story.
They're hoping to write a new chapter by restoring the Duval Home to its original design.
Without a doubt, this town is one of Florida's Hidden Gems.
A special thanks to Frank Peters and the Floral City Heritage Council. Please visit their website at http://www.floralcityhc.org/museum.html.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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