Faraway Inn has an Amazing New Mural of the Eagle Cedar Pencil Slat Mill

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The Faraway Inn property was once the site of the Eagle Pencil Company Cedar Mill (circa 1870 – 1896). The mill was damaged in the 1896 hurricane and storm surge. The once plentiful stands of red cedar were becoming sparse and brought the end of the enterprise.

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You need to stop by and see this incredible mural for yourself. It is incredible. Mural is done by local artist Alda.

Group portrait at the Eagle Pencil Company cedar mill - Cedar Key, Florida.

Group portrait at the Eagle Pencil Company cedar mill – Cedar Key, Florida.

Eagle Pencil Company (Cedar Key, Fla.)–Employees.

Year: Not after 1896
General Note: The Eagle Pencil Company cedar mill (circa 1870 ? 1896) was damaged in the 1896 hurricane and storm surge. The once plentiful stands of red cedar were becoming sparse and the hurricane brought an end to the enterprise. George H. Reynolds had been manager of the mill. The Faraway Inn was later built in the early 1950’s on the original site of the 19th century Eagle Pencil Company cedar mill.

Site Marker is located at the corner of Third and G Street at Faraway Inn.

Text of the Marker

Harvesting redcedars (a form of juniper) for pencil manufacturing, along with pines and baldcypress for lumber, was of great importance to the Cedar Keys and the early development of North Florida in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1849, German entrepreneur J. Eberhard Faber (1830-1884) arrived in New York hunting splinter-free wood for pencils. He found abundant redcedar in Florida’s Gulf Hammock/Waccasassa Bay area between the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers. He bought land and timber, floated logs to the Keys, and shipped logs to the family factory in Germany. In 1858, Faber built a slat mill on Atsena Otie (Depot Key), directly south of this location, and shipped slats instead of logs. In 1862, he built the Faber pencil factory on New York’s East River (near the current site of the United Nations) and supplied it with slats from his Cedar Keys mill, a practice facilitated by the 1861 completion of David Levy Yulee’s (1810-1886) Florida Railroad connecting the Keys and Fernandina Beach. The Eagle Pencil Company followed Faber’s lead, building its New York factory in 1868 and supplying it with redcedar slats from its own mill built on this site in 1876. This industry flourished on the Cedar Keys until the local resources were depleted and the slat mills were destroyed by a hurricane in 1896. Augmenting Cedar Key’s redcedar-for- pencils industry of the era were other forest-based products. Yellow pine and baldcypress lumber was milled on the Keys by Suwannee Lumber and Fenimore Steam and Planing mills on Atsena Otie and Way Key, respectively. Cabbage (sabal) palms were harvested and used for dock pilings locally and as far away as Key West. Later (1910-1952), the Standard Manufacturing Company developed a process, established a mill, and produced brush fibers and Donax® whisk brushes from young cabbage palms. Palm fibers were shipped nationwide and as far as Canada, Germany, and Australia. The rich and diverse forest resources of the Cedar Keys and surrounding area, and the entrepreneurial energy of many were central to the settlement and development of the “Cedar Keys.” They provided homes and livelihood for thousands, products needed and enjoyed around the world, and a proud legacy for Florida.

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