"Gem City of the St Johns River"
Brief History of Palatka
Palatka was established as a trading post in 1821 and is today the county seat of Putnam County, Florida. The name comes from the Timucuan Indian word Pilotakata, meaning "crossing." The original settlement was burned during the Semionole War of 1836. In 1838, the US government constructed Fort Shannon, which served as a garrison, supply depot, and hospital for the forts in the area.
During the American Civil War, Federal troops occupied the city. During the postwar period, riverboats plied the St Johns River to points south and Palatka became the gateway to the interior of Florida.
Palatka became known as the "Gem of the St Johns" and boasted several world-class hotels that included the Arlington, Saratoga, La Fayette, and the Putnam House, with accommodations to host 6,000 visitors. Palatka prospered in the late 1800s as an enormous resource for timber and citrus and had a reputation for natural beauty that attracted many visitors.
A devastating fire in downtown Palatka in 1884 destroyed many of the grand hotels and deep freezes in 1894 and 1895 devastated the area's citrus industry, causing a decline in the area's visitation and industry.
Today, Palatka has a large downtown business district, a beautiful waterfront park, and many historic and cultural sites. Palatka also hosts many wonderful festivals and events. For more information, visit the Putnam County Historical Society.
World War I Doughboy Statues
Four life-like copper statues, commemorating the soldiers who served, stand at both ends of the Palatka Memorial Bridge.
Ravine Gardens State Park
A 2.8 mile scenic driveway borders the 70-120 feet deep ravine. the 89-acre gardens, dating back to 1930, were planted with over 95,000 azaleas, including 64 varieties, 11,000 palm trees, and more than 250,000 ornamental plants. The 64 foot tall obelisk, dedicated to Franklin D Roosevelt, is located near the park entrance. The park boasts extensive fieldstone terraces, rock gardens, and massive cypress building construction. The park is open 7 days a week. Visit www.floridastatepark.org for more information.
City of Murals
The Conlee-Snyder Mural Committee, initiated by the City of Palatka Historic Preservation Board, began operation under the guidance of the Main Street program of Downtown Palatka, Inc., in early 1998. The Committee was named in honor of (and in tribute to) Leon Conlee, tenured City Commissioner and philanthropist, who passed away in 1997; and Clinton R. Snyder, Jr., and Elizabeth W. Snyder the founders of this organization. Their mission is to accurately depict the historical, cultural, and natural riches of Palatka
and Putnam County in larger-than-life murals. In sharing these pictorial
renderings with visitors and citizens, appreciation of the heritage of the
community will be enhanced and developed. Visit www.conleemurals.org for more information.