This former land of the Native Americans called Timucua, became a Florida State Park in 1945. On May 7, 1973, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The long-vanished Timucua are commemorated with an huge public art installation from 1957 by Fredrick Dana Marsh. Called “Legend of Tomokie,” it features Chief Tomokie at the top of a wall of warriors. While there is no historical evidence of a real Chief Tomokie, the monument is a reminder that this area was once populated by Native Americans who lived and fished these waters for centuries before Europeans arrived.
The Tomoka River and the Halifax River (the Intracoastal Waterway) meet at the north end of the park forming a natural peninsula. With 12 miles of shoreline, the park’s 2,000 plus acres covers maritime hammock and estuarine salt marshes. The vast Tomoka Basin watershed has provided man and animal with food and shelter since its earliest inhabitants thousands of years ago. Here you can learn about the Timucuan Indians that once occupied a vast area including what is now Tomoka State Park. Tomoka Point is where the Timucuan village known as Nocoroco (Nōcō-rōcō) stood. Nocoroco dates to almost 1,300 years ago and although nothing remains of the village today, shell middens, mounds of oyster and snail shells from decades of Native American meals reach 40 feet high at the river bank. Spanish explorer Alvaro Mexia first visited the area in 1605 while exploring Florida and noted the Native American villages throughout the area by describing their locations in relation to Nocoroco. The park's concession offers kayaks so you can paddle the same waters Native Americans did while viewing the natural settings of the Tomoka River Basin.
Tomoka State Park is noted for its live oak hammock with arching limbs covered in Spanish moss, resurrection fern and green-fly orchids. Indian pipe, spring coralroot and Florida coontie grow under the hammock canopy, while wild coffee and tropical sage can be found on the shell middens. Visitors may explore the green world of this hammock on the half-mile nature trail. Salt marshes adjacent to the rivers flourish with plant life, including black needlerush, spartina and glasswort. These marshes, flooded daily by tides, provide habitat, food and breeding grounds for oysters, snails, fiddler crabs and fish. Wading birds and hawks forage the marshes for their meals. Over 160 bird species have been documented. During the summer, manatees take refuge with their young in the Tomoka River. Bottlenose dolphins occasionally surface, while the American alligator is a familiar resident. Campers often see raccoons, bobcats, white-tailed deer and otters that come out at dusk.
The name Tomoka comes from the Timucua, a group of Native Americans who lived in northeast Florida centuries ago. Today, visitors can picnic, hike and camp beneath the same ancient live oaks that shaded the Timucua. Visitors can canoe and fish in the surrounding waters. The park’s museum shares the story of the various people who have lived on this peninsula.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
ADDRESS: 32099 North Beach Street, Ormond Beach, FL 32174
PHONE: (386) 676-4050
HOURS: 8:00 a.m. to sunset daily.
The Fred Dana Marsh Museum is open daily 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. It houses works by the artist, as well as exhibits on the ecology and history of the park. The second Saturday of each
month, living history interpreters discuss their time period and crafts.
page information credit: Florida State Parks, Friends of the Tomoka Basin State Parks, City of Ormond Beach, Florida, floridahikes.com, floridarambler.com, discoverfla.com
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors