The Bulow Plantation Ruins can be seen at the Historic State Park in Florida. Tall brick walls lit by sunlight can be seen.

Exploring History At Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park

I have to say that walking through the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park in Florida is just as breathtaking and exciting as touring one of the many standing plantations that I’ve visited over the years.

There’s something mysterious and mystifying about these ruins that are nestled just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of I-95 in Flagler County, Florida.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a history buff, nature lover, or just looking for a picturesque spot to unwind, you’ll enjoy this glimpse into the historic Bulow Plantation Ruins.

(And I think after reading this, you’re going to want to explore them too)!

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Barren stone walls of the Bulow Plantation is all that remains to see at this historic state park in Florida.

At A Glance: Bulow Plantation Ruins offer a place to reflect on the rich history of a fallen Florida sugar plantation and to enjoy a vibrant natural setting full of wildlife. Wear walking shoes and pack bug spray, water and a camera!

Three State Parks With Nature And History

Bulow Creek State Park is actually the main park that stretches along Old Dixie Highway between Tomoka State Park and Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park.

As for history, there are 11 known plantation sites located in the park! The Dummett Mill Ruins (which can be seen from Old Dixie Highway) and the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, are the most notable of those.

The owners of these plantations were British noblemen or military officers that received land grants for their service. They produced everything from rice and cotton, to sugar cane and indigo.

The sugar cane was processed in mills and yielded molasses and sugar.

For reference, the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park is located about 36 miles south of St. Augustine, in east Florida.

Bulow Plantation Ruins Map

A map showing the layout of Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park and some of its amenities.

Things To Do At Bulow Plantation Ruins

The first thing you need to know when visiting the Bulow Plantation Ruins is that there is a lot to see and do.

Exploring this historic site is the main attraction but don’t miss the other fun activities. Here are just a few of the many things to do:

Explore the Ruins: The sugar mill ruins are truly a sight to behold. Constructed of coquina limestone, these remnants tell a story of innovation, industry and conflict.

Hike the Trails: Winding through old live oaks and towering pines, these paths offer not just a peaceful retreat but also a chance to spot local wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the diverse bird species that call this park home.

Picnic by the Creek: After you’ve wandered through history and hiked the trails, why not relax with a picnic by Bulow Creek? The picnic area offers beautiful views of the water, making it the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy Florida’s natural beauty. Plus, with minimal fees involved, it’s an affordable way to spend your day.

Canoeing Adventures: Canoe rentals are available, allowing you to paddle the tranquil waters of Bulow Creek. If you’ve brought your own, there’s easy access for launching too.

Bulow Plantation History

Founded in the 1820s, Bulow Plantation was once a thriving sugar cane plantation, that covered more than 2,200 acres.

In 1836, during the turmoil of the Second Seminole War, Seminole warriors targeted Bulow Plantation as a way to send a message about the U.S. military’s attempts to force them from their lands.

They set the plantation ablaze, leaving only the coquina rock walls and foundations that visitors can still see today. This act of resistance marked the end of the plantation’s short yet vibrant chapter in Florida’s history.

I love exploring parks like this and enjoying a “walk in the wild.” Truly this state park has been left to look much as it did hundreds of years ago.

At the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, you get the added benefit of getting to explore the hauntingly beautiful remains of this once-prosperous historical plantation in Florida.

Remnants include the sugar mill, spring house, mansion, slave cabins, and water wells. Each structure tells a part of the plantation’s story, from its booming days to its fiery downfall.

Signs standing in front of the Bulow Plantation Ruins explain those who lived there and how the plantation was burned by the Seminoles.

Signs dotted throughout the park offer insights into the daily lives of those who lived and worked on the plantation, shedding light on both the economic operations and the human experiences that shaped Bulow Plantation.

It’s really interesting to read about the operations of a sugar plantation, because it’s not something I’ve seen before.

Some of the construction details remind me of Kingsley Plantation, which is another plantation in Florida.

The 46 cabins at Bulow Plantation were home to 197 men, women and children who were documented in the 1830 census. Cabins were arranged in a semi-circular pattern around the main plantation house.

The 12- by 16-foot buildings had shingled roofs and wood siding. Each dwelling had a coquina fireplace.

The main house was a French Colonial style mansion.

The Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park offers an outdoor museum with original artifacts and written accounts of the plantation’s history, so that visitors can take a self-guided ruins tour and get a sense of what happened on the very ground where they are standing.

An old drawing showing slaves and how they would produce sugar at places like Bulow Plantation in Florida.
A drawing that shows what sugar production was like at Bulow Plantation.

The 150 acres of Bulow Plantation Ruins is a great way to gain an understanding of the rise and fall of sugar plantations in Florida.

A wonderfully scenic walking trail leads visitors to the sugar mill ruins, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

Where Did Bulow Plantation Get Its Name?

In 1821, Major Charles Wilhelm Bulow, a wealthy merchant from Charleston, South Carolina, acquired 4,675 acres of wilderness bordering a tidal creek that would bear his name.

Using slave labor, Major Bulow cleared 2,200 acres and planted sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo.

Major Bulow died at age 44, leaving his holdings and BulowVille to his only son, John Joachim Bulow, who was just a teenager. John J. Bulow was raised and schooled in Paris, France, from the age of five, until he left France for BulowVille.

In the late 1700s, growing world demand for commodities such as rice, cotton and sugar helped build the plantation economy in East Florida.

These large operations thrived by using the forced labor of enslaved Africans.

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Bulow Plantation’s Tragic End

Under the management of overseer Francisco Pellicer Jr., production at Bulow Plantation increased, helping all of those involved to prosper — until the outbreak of the Second Seminole War.

Young John Bulow did not agree with the U.S. government’s intentions to send the Seminoles to reservations west of the Mississippi River. He even demonstrated his disapproval by firing a cannon at the State Militia as they entered the Bulow Plantation property.

As a result, troops took Bulow prisoner.

After a brief campaign against the Indians and with most of the troops ill, the militia relocated to St. Augustine and allowed Bulow to go free.

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Realizing that the Seminole nation was becoming more hostile, young Bulow, like other settlers and their slaves, abandoned the plantation and followed the troops northward.

Around January 11, 1836, the Seminoles burned “Bulowville,” along with other plantations in the area. A “great rosy glow” was observed on January 31, 1836, in St. Augustine.

The house was never rebuilt. John Bulow, discouraged by the destruction, died three months later at the age of 26 and was buried in St. Augustine.

Related Story: To get an idea of the work involved in running a plantation, read about Laura Plantation in Louisiana, which was run by generations of women entrepreneurs.

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Bulow’s Haunted History

When you’re exploring the Bulow Plantation Ruins, don’t be surprised if you get a certain eerie feeling.

Over the years, visitors have reported strange phenomena and ghostly sightings, especially at Bulow Creek State Park. These accounts have solidified the park’s reputation as one of Florida’s haunted locales.

Of course, the haunting tales could stem, not only from the park’s rich history, but also from its dramatic end. It’s truly a unique experience to walk on the same grounds that were once fiercely defended by the Seminoles when they burned the plantation to the ground in the 1830s.

It’s in these woods and among the ruins where people have felt the presence of the past the most intensely.

Old Trees and Supernatural Experiences

Of course, you know I love old trees, so make sure you visit the massive Fairchild Oak, which is thought to be around 400 years old.

Just imagine what this tree witnessed, and think about the mysteries it holds within its old weathered bark.

It’s not as old as the famous Angel Oak in South Carolina, but it is old enough to have witnessed a lot of history.

The Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island SC is older than the tree at the Bulow Plantation Ruins. The Angel Oak shows sprawling and massive limbs, some of them touching the ground.
The famous Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island, S.C.

I discovered another witness tree in North Carolina, that still stands after having witnessed Civil War action at Fort Macon on the Crystal Coast.

These old live oaks amaze me every time I find a new one — and there are plenty of them in the South!

Planning Your Visit

The Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park is open every day except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Open hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., allowing you plenty of daylight to soak in the history and natural beauty.

Pro Tip: Before setting out, it’s wise to check the weather and schedule your visit when the forecast promises clear, comfortable weather.

Bulow Plantation Ruins’ Cost

Admission Fees are among the most economical I’ve come across anywhere, making this park, not only educational, but also very affordable.

It’s $4 per vehicle (limited to 8 people) for parking, a small price for access to such a rich tapestry of Florida’s past.

If you’re on a bike or walking in, it’s just $2 per person, and the same goes if you’re an additional passenger in a larger group.

Explore Bulow Creek

Should you decide to dive deeper into the serene waters of Bulow Creek, canoe rentals are available at a price of $3/hour or $15/day, allowing you to drift through the natural scenery at your own pace.

The creek feeds directly into the Intracoastal Waterway, offering you a blend of tranquil waters and vibrant ecosystems. With options to rent by the hour or day, you can decide how long you’d like to lose yourself in the beautiful scenery.

For group gatherings or special occasions, there is a screened pavilion overlooking Bulow Creek. With six picnic tables and running grills, this space accommodates around 48 people for $60/day plus tax.

To get to the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park from Interstate 95, take exit 278, travel east on Old Dixie Hwy, then north on Old Kings Rd until the signs usher you to this historic park’s entrance.

If you have an RV, checkout Bulow RV Resort in Flagler Beach, Fl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Bulow Plantation Ruins Park Dog Friendly?

Yes, pets are allowed in designated areas at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, but must be on a leash no longer than six feet

What Is The Oldest State Park In Florida?

The oldest state park in Florida is Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, which preserves the site of Florida’s largest battle during the Civil War.

What Is The Largest State Park In Florida?

The largest state park in Florida is Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. Well known for its unique biodiversity, it has plant and animal species not found anywhere else in the continental United States.

Dummett Mill Ruins

Just north of Tomoka State Park on the east side of Old Dixie sits the ruins of the Dummett Sugar Mill. This sugar mill was constructed out of coquina stone and brick, but, like Bulow Plantation, it was burned and partially destroyed during the second Seminole War in 1836.

The ruins of the Dummit Plantation ins Florida shows two chimneys rising out of a stone wall.
Dummett Sugar Mill ruins in Florida.

The Dummett Sugar Mill consists of ruins from an 1825 sugar factory with rum distillery that was part of an operation owned by Thomas Dummett.

Using a boiler that Dummett purchased from Barbados, the mill is thought to have been the first steam-operated mill in the region.

Need A Place To Stay Near The Bulow Ruins?

Enjoy Plantation Tours? One of the most photographed plantations is Oak Alley in Louisiana. The largest plantation in the South is Nottoway, also in Louisiana, which is open for tours and special events.

Wrap-Up Of Bulow Plantation Ruins

The Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore the remnants of a once-thriving sugar plantation.

The impressive coquina walls and foundations serve as a reminder of Florida’s rich history and the challenges faced by early settlers.

If you’re visiting nearby St. Augustine, Bulow Plantation Ruins and the Bulow State Park make a perfect day trip.

Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply enjoying the great outdoors, this hidden gem in Florida is definitely worth a visit.

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