Clay County, Florida
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Clay County was once a popular destination for tourists visiting from the northern states. The therapeutic, warm springs and mild climate were major draws for visitors. Steamboats brought them to various hotels in Green Cove Springs - the St. Elmo, Clarendon and the Oakland. President Grover Cleveland was the most prominent of such tourists; he had spring water shipped to the White House. Clay County's popularity among tourists peaked during the last three decades of the 19th century. It was later eclipsed by Henry Flagler's extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to points south such as Palm Beach and Miami.
The military has also played an important role in
Clay County history. In 1939, Camp Blanding opened on Kingsley Lake
in central Clay County. The Florida National Guard developed this 28,000
acre complex. During World War II, it trained over 90,000 troops and
became the fourth largest 'city' in the state. In Green Cove Springs,
Lee Field was a flight training center. After World War II, Lee Field
became a base for the mothball fleet. Although Lee Field closed in the
early 1960s, Camp Blanding continues to operate today. Clay County is
also a popular choice of residence for military personnel who are stationed
on bases in nearby Duval County.
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