October 31, 2007

Old Magnolia Road

Tallahassee's Apalachee Parkway has got fast food joints galore--so does Monroe Street. Moe's, Wendy's, Zaxby's Chicken, MacDonald's...as well as Target, Staples, Circuit City. Welcome to Anywhere, America. Even US 90, the main artery of the Lawton Chiles Trail in the Sunshine State, gets gaudy once you get to Tally. At least it's got a stretch of medical clinics to balance out the fried food.

But on the far eastern rim of Leon County, Old Magnolia Road stubbornly keeps its own time. Unpaved red clay and bits of gravel and here and there. A single narrow lane. Impassable after a rain. Canopied by mossy live oaks whose roots are exposed in the steep banks on either side or the road.
It's a road that was built for cotton-hauling mule wagons in the 19th century, taking the white stuff from the grand plantations of Leon and Jefferson Counties down south to the long-abandoned port of Magnolia in Wakulla County.

Old Port Magnolia

By the time you get to the US 90 intersection, driving south on Old Magnolia Road, and that gravely clay turns into the finest federal asphalt, you'll feel accomplished. It's a 10 minute drive at slow speed, but the quiet makes it feel longer. Check out Jan Annino Godown's Scenic Driving Florida for more details on the drive.

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