Melbourne was a quiet coastal town of 157 people on Florida’s Indian River lagoon. Farming, ranching, fishing, and related trades supported the local economy. Melbourne entered the industrial age in 1912, when the Union Cypress Company began manufacturing lumber from the private cypress and pine holdings of George W. Hopkins at Deer Park. This timber had a 1911 market value of over $2 million.
Good employment and a local source of lumber brought development, and the company-owned mill town of Hopkins was eventually annexed by Melbourne. The company provided Melbourne’s first electricity and out-patient hospital. The Union Cypress Railway provided the first direct route to Florida’s interior across the “impenetrable”
Highlights of Melbourne's Logging Era:
• The first three settlers were freedmen from Georgia, Alabama and Virginia, arriving in the early 1870s. The settlement was then called Crane Creek.
• By June 1880, the village had six families, 21 residents, and a US Post Office. In July 1880 the community was named Melbourne, honoring one of its early settlers who came from Melbourne, Australia.
• In early 1919, fire consumed most of Melbourne’s downtown business district. Later that year, fire destroyed the big Union Cypress sawmill. Both were rebuilt.
Ed Vosatka, a graduate of Ohio State University, came to Florida in 1972. He holds degrees in biology and photographic technology with master’s work in geology. He is a former high school science teacher, a research biologist for the State of Florida, and has published in both scientific and popular journals. Images of America: Melbourne’s Logging Era: 1912–1932 represents some 30 years of research.
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