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Florida was officially discovered by Europeans in 1513. However there were many excursions onto the peninsula before that. Usually to find slaves. It's no wonder that by the time the official expeditions came along the natives of the land already knew that the strange metal covered people were bad. In October 1509 one of the early raids decided to explore what is now known as the St. Johns River. The natives made themselves scarce seeing the strange boat coming up the river which was flooded due to a recent storm. With the main ship at anchor the Spanish set about to explore in long boats. They soon discovered what is now the Econlockhatchee River. They found suitable landing site and set up camp. The goal was to go into the interior by following the river. Soon most of the supplies were unloaded. Several conquistadors had set out to explore but didn't return. It was thought they may have encountered natives so a larger force set out to look for them. Following foot prints in the mushy ground they came to a strange oak tree where the prints stopped. There were no other prints to be seen. The main force returned to the campsite only to see all the long boats were gone. They looked out on the St Johns to see the main ship was on fire. The fire made it's way to the powder magazine and the whole ship was destroyed in a massive explosion.
None of the long boats returned. All must have been destroyed in the explosion. The men were now stranded with no hope of rescue. They decided to move the camp away from the river and camped what was described as an unusual oak. Being seafarers they were familiar with the giant squid and this is how they described the tree.
At night they would have sentries to protect against an expected attack from natives but none came. The first night the sentry disappeared without a sound. Soon supplies were missing. They doubled the sentries the next night and they too disappeared. Some began to notice a change in the tree. It seemed bigger and more foreboding. It seemed like it was watching.
A decision was made to move the camp but they were unable to. Each time they would start to take the shelters down they would become drowsy and would decide to wait. In a few days most of the men were gone. Vanished without a trace. The survivors discussed leaving but could not seem to put the plan in motion. One day while they sat around the fire a tendril from the tree grabbed a man's leg and dragged him into it. The others were horrified but unable to move. One by one it reached out and absorbed man after man. Soon all were gone but one man. He was the scribe who would record the events. It isn't know why the tree didn't take him but he still seemed to be under it's spell. He would continue to write in his journal until he went mad.
In 1958 a rancher found a clay pot and some rusted Spanish armor. In the pot was the journal of the last Spaniard. To this day people avoid coming near the tree. No animals will come near it either. If you decide to come please be careful. Don't linger. Leave as soon as you can. Dios esté contigo.
Placed with permission
From parking coordinates go east 1.3 miles on dirt road to white trail and head left(north). At river go right (east) on yellow trail. This is much better than taking the road all the way out. Bikes are not supposed to be on the river trail so this is a good reason to hike. There is one heavy gate with a busted hinge about a half mile from parking. You can go through it just be sure to close it.
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum