Dudley Farm Historic State Park
Learning to saw timber at Dudley Farm Historic State Park
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Dudley Farm Historic State Park is a "living history" state park filled with interpretive sites and regularly scheduled demonstrations and exhibitions of what life was like for the pioneers in early Florida. The buildings and materials range from the 1850's to the 1940's, through three generations of the Dudley family. Park staff make this a working farm: doing the daily chores, tending the livestock and raising the crops. Everything is done in period clothing, using period equipment.
Among the 18 buildings in the homestead are the family farmhouse (with original furnishings), a general store/post office, barns, wood sheds, outbuildings and a cane syrup complex (for crushing the cane, boiling the syrup and producing sugar). The farm offers seasonal corn shuckings and cane grindings, in addition to the presence of heritage species of plants and livestock (turkeys, chickens, cattle, and none are the modern genetically-modified stuff). The park also hosts an annual Quilt Show and Star Gazing in October and Plow Days in February. The farm grows figs, pears, pecans, peaches, sweet potatoes, field corn and sugar cane and offers special interpretive sessions during those harvests.
The park offers a visitor center with a picnic area, a short trail that wanders across a hammock in the picnic area with many live oaks and a few sinkholes, and a 0.3-mile interpretive trail that loops from the visitor center through Dudley Farm's woodlands and ends at the picnic area. The picnic area offers six tables and three barbecue grills.
Because this is a popular historic working farm, during the school year there are often guided tours happening in the mornings, Wednesdays through Sundays for school groups. School groups are limited to 40 participants and reservations must be made at least one month in advance.
Self-guided tours are available during operating hours from October through July. Just keep in mind the park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays year round.
Dudley Farm Historic State Park is located between Newberry and Gainesville on State Road 26, about seven miles west of Interstate 75. Dudley Farm Historic State Park is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm. Self-guided tours are allowed on those days between 9 am and 4 pm. There are fees involved.
The sugar cane house and woodshed at Dudley Farm
The water well and general store at Dudley Farm
Lower photo courtesy of Terry Nail, Florida State Parks
Bottom photo courtesy of Elaine Burney, Florida State Parks