Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Roadside America

I was camped in Tomoka State Park in Florida for the past several days. It's a nice park, good buffers between sites, lots of things to do, close to the beach, and great park amenities like washer/driers, power in the sites, and nice shower houses.

The park is also the site of the statue of Chief Tomokie. It's a kitschy 1955 rendition of a statue commemorating Chief Tomokie, a local chief that drank from a sacred spring, was killed by a maiden, and then avenged by his braves. It was made from concrete mixed with brick dust and reinforced with bamboo. A big deal at the time, the Florida Symphony Orchestra played at the opening. A reflecting pool was dug in front of the artwork.

Here's the earliest picture I could find. The Chief is still holding a spear, the water is flowing from the goblet, all the other figures are still holding their bows and arrows, and the reflecting pool is present.

 As best as I can determine from exhaustive research 20 minutes with Google and reading some of the better results, there's no truth to the legend, the name is meaningless, and every member of the local indigenous people was dead by 1700.

It's typical roadside Americana. Made for tourists in the post-war travel boom in the years before the interstate highways streamlined travel and eliminated most of the roadside attractions along with the towns and motels.

It's in ruins. Money set aside twenty years ago to stabilize and repair the work were vetoed by the governor. The park filled in the reflecting pool and put up a fence to keep people out from under the chunks of material that look ready to fall. Most of the secondary figures are gone. The accompanying museum of the artist's other work has been closed. Here's a couple of the pictures I took.

Less a monument to a Native American than a reflection of a time in America that I can remember, it deserves to be preserved. Roadside America had this to say.


SiGraybeard said...

Unfortunately, the aspect of "it's all made up to attract tourists" is rather common here in Florida.

That's about a 90 minute drive from where I live and I've never been there.

ASM826 said...

We camped there and didn't know it was there until we rode down to the point on bikes.