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Oketockee, Florida

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About this City Journal

(SC4) Follow along as we explore Florida's newest metropolis, vacation destination, and industrial hub.

Entries in this City Journal

mayorbk

Happy New Year from Oketockee, Florida!

Locals and tourists of the city are enjoying a fun night of New Year's Eve festivities around Oketockee. With a temperature of 55 degrees and calm winds, many people will flock to the shores of Oketockee Harbor to watch the annual firework display. Many residents will celebrate on their boats and set anchor in the Oketockee Harbor, Butler Creek, and other waterways to view the annual firework display. In addition some of the gated communities have their own celebrations and smaller fireworks centered around the community marinas and clubhouses.

Tourist Info

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Picture: One of the many firework displays from Oketockee in 2014.

For those new to Oketockee, the best places to watch the fireworks are from the Bob's Landing are of the city and from the campus of Oketockee State College and University Beach. The Bob's Landing area of the city includes many popular night spots, restaurants, and hotels. The University Beach area is popular with families and is usually less rowdy than Bob's Landing. Many people bring blankets and lawn chairs and set them up in the soft sand of the beach or on the park-like campus of Oketockee State College.

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Picture: Bob's Landing ready to celebrate 2015.

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Picture: The University Beach neighborhood is a popular, family-friendly firework viewing spot.

Transportation

The Cove County Transit will be running CCT Rail and CCT Bus Rapid Transit routes on rush hour schedules until 3:00AM. CCT Water Taxis will also run on rush hour schedules but riders should expect route changes and minor delays due to the Cove County Sheriff's Department and US Coast Guard parameter around the firework barges as well as expanded no-wake zones.

CCT recommends riders use the Zoo Station and Barracuda Blvd Station to access the Bob's Landing area. CCT will have extra security and staff on hand at the stations to assists riders and manage the large crowds expected.

Public Safety

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Picture: Cove County Sheriff's Deprt. shut down the Harbor Causeway Bridge in preparations for the fireworks display.

As already mentioned, The US Coast Guard has set a boating parameter around the fireworks barges. There is also an expanded no-wake zone covering much of Oketockee Harbor. The Coast Guard and Cove County Sheriff's Department have extra boats patrolling Oketockee's waterways. The Sheriff's Department and Oketockee Police Department has blocked Sunshine Street and Barracuda Ave west of Oketockee Hwy to vehicles in Bob's Landing. Beginning at 10:00 PM, The departments will also close the Harbor Causeway Bridge that carries FL Route 500 over the harbor.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy 2015! Happy New Year!!!

Also CJ note: I will have the expected update with the detailed tour of the city soon.

mayorbk

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Oketockee, FL. No snow here and 65 degrees but the residents of Butler Creek Marine Club got in the holiday spirit by decorating palm trees and yachts.

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Picture: Houses and Yachts decorated in the Butler Creek Marine Club neighborhood.

Also, thanks to all the moders, BATers, CJ followers, CJ creators and all those who make Simtropolis a wonderful place to showcase the fun and adventure of SC4!

mayorbk

History Part 2, Modern Growth (1975-2001)

Oketockee continued to grow as more businesses moved to the town and by 1976 it was officially named a city with just over 23,000 year-round residents. Like many cities, the map changes in the late 1970s and into the 1980s when developer pushed neighborhoods outside of the immediate city footprint. The developers also changed the landscape using dredging and fill to raise new land from the swampy coastal marshes. The developers also dug boating channels for recreational uses. Several new planned communities were built during the decade, including Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club (1980), Butler Creek Marine Club (1982), Warm Cove Estates (1986), Plantation Harbor (1988), and Oketockee Sailing Club (1989).

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Picture: Downtown Oketockee circa 1976

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Picture: Development such as the Butler Creek Business Park, anchored by Publix grocery, grew iwith the 1980s suburban sprawl.

As the city sprawled outward, Cove County and the state of Florida began several large-scale transportation projects. First a Northwestern belt highway was constructed across the northern side of the city. The state then extended it east of Cove County and designated it FL Route 500. The county and state then constructed FL Route 351 along the eastern edge of Oketockee city limits.

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Picture: FL Route 500 (upper right and bottom left) connects with FL Route 351 (left and right) on the northeast side of the city.

The addition of the highways provided more connectivity to the region and created another rapid growth period. Despite a recession in the early 1990s, by the middle of the decade, the city rebounded and construction of housing and commercial picked up again. By the close of the 20th century, the population of Oketockee ballooned to 45,000 year-round residents.

Teaser

On the next update, we'll go on a tour of 21st century Oketockee and detail the rapidly growing tropical city.

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Picture: Condos line Butler Creek near the Plantation Parkway Bridge.

mayorbk

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Preface

Welcome to my newest CJ. Oketockee, This journal will follow the trials and tribulations, growth and development, city planning and politics, and adventures surrounding this fictional Floridian metropolis. Many may have seen my previous work, Renault, in the CJ forum section. As with that CJ, my style involves planning combined with organic growth.

Early History of Oketockee

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The region was first settled in pre-European era by the Seminole Tribe. The region saw an influx of people in the late 1800s and farming and other industries such as fishing and logging became staples for the region. The area eventually became known as Dixie County, stretching from the Steinhatchee River on the Northwest and the Suwannee River on the Southeast.

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Picture: Barracuda Bob's Farm and Alligator Adventure. (circa 1935)

In the early 1930s a circus promoter and owner of several road-side attractions in the Southeastern US, Barracuda Bob, came to the county in search of land to establish an Alligator wrestling nature attraction. Barracuda Bob traveled to the location of present day Oketockee and saw potential for the coastal swampland to become a vacation destination. Barracuda Bob cut a road from Cross City, Florida to his tract of land to draw tourists from the U.S. Route 19, which was constructed through the county in the late 1920s and early 1930.

Travel by automobile was still limited in the era so Barracuda Bob's Alligator Adventure never became a vacation destination. Although he kept the attraction, he scaled down the grandiose plans and utilized much of his land for industrial uses (logging and farming).

In 1936, Barracuda Bob vanished. Some say he became a meal for his pet Alligator; others say he ventured to Cuba and became a successful hotel owner; while others say he still lurks in the swamps around Oketockee. The land was auctioned off by Dixie County and David Amason, of New York City-based Amason Lumber purchased the land. Amason's company had already leased part of the property while Barracuda Bob owned it.

Amason continued to use the land for logging and agriculture. He also worked with investors to build a railroad into the region, later named the Oketockee & Gainesville RR, the company hulled logs, pulpwood, and produce from the growing village. Amason's attention turned from industry to tourism when he found Barracuda Bob's plans for the vacation destination hidden in Barracuda Bob's old house.

As the industries continued to boom, Amason sold and rented parcels to other businesses and private residences. With the extra money, Amason began dredging the swamps to build up useable land as well as beachfront property. As the logging industry recessed during the 1950s, he realized the long-term success of the land would be as a town. After becoming the first mayor, he put the name of the town to a vote and the residences chose Oketockee- Seminole Creek Langue for Magnolia. The town quickly grew in the post-war baby boom era; going from a population of 500 in 1950 to over 3,000 by 1965.

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Picture: Downtown Oketockee in the mid 1940s.

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Picture: The first big construction boom in the post-war era during the 1950s (circa 1953)

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Picture: Downtown Oketockee during the early 1970s (circa 1972)

Barracuda Bob's vision of a tourist destination became a reality during the 1960s and 70s, well sort of, he did not envision the popularity of eco tourist (hippies) that traveled to Oketockee to enjoy the pristine beaches as well as unspoiled wildlife after residents opened doors to their houses to serve as bead-and-breakfasts. The group of residents soon created the Oketockee Tourism Bureau and named former mayor, David Amason, president. Fueled by dissention between the industry-focused Dixie County leaders and tourism-focused residents of Oketockee, the group led a campaign to break from the county. The vote was successful and much of the western areas of Dixie County became known as Cove County, after the Horseshoe Cove that defines the coastal outline of the region.

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Picture: The Amason House is now home to the Cove County Historical Society and Tourism Bureau offices.

Teaser

We'll continue with History Part 2, Modern Growth (1975-2001) soon. For now here is a teaser for that:

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Picture: One of the many Publix grocery stores located in the metro area. The Butler Creek Parkway location pictured.

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