Hudson, Florida features lots of Charm
Hudson, Florida is a hidden gem that’s too easy to miss while driving US19 along Florida’s Nature Coast. Located on the western side of Pasco County along the Gulf, the unincorporated modern-day coastal town has quite an interesting past.
North of New Port Richey, Hudson started shaping up when Isaac Hudson and his wife Amanda moved their family from Alabama in 1878. The Hudsons made the trip from Alabama in two covered wagons with their boys herding cattle in front of the wagons. The move was prompted when Isaac’s doctor suggested the move to the warm salt air would help his bronchial problems. Three years after they arrived, Hudson and his wife Amanda established the first post office in their home.
Prior to 1874, Hudson had a total population of 16. The area was rough, mostly consisting of wild animals, brush, and swamp land. Before Isaac Hudson arrived with his family in covered wagons the isolated area was rich with wild deer, boar, and turkey.
In 1874, Hudson’s first settlers started the commercial fishing industry. The Bush, Lang, Frierson, Knowles, Stevenson, and Brady families were as rugged as could be.
Mullet went for a penny each. At the time, a typical breakfast consisted of mullet and yams.
A few years after the arrival of those first families, the first commercial fishing business is believed to have been established by John Lang. Fish were abundant, and the catches were large. Families would travel from other areas for days to load their barrels with salted fish in Hudson, Florida.
Settlers often traveled from as far as fifty miles to buy fish, which they would split, salt, and pack in barrels. The average family would transport five barrels to fill on a trip! With the improvement of transportation and facilities for ice storage in the early 1900s, the fishing industry became the main interest in the West Coast Florida town.
During this period sponge divers from Key West brought their boats into Hudson’s landing for provisions. They began hooking sponges with long poles, holding glass-bottomed buckets over the water to see the sponges in the clear water below. Hudson, Florida became known as a small fishing village that had made it through the Civil War. It was not until later that the Greek sponge divers came to the bayou where Tarpon Springs now stands.
The First Cemetery in Hudson
Hudson Cemetery was established in 1878 by the family of Isaac W. and Amanda Hudson who had settled the Hudson community, originally known as Hudson’s Landing.
In 1980 the Pasco Board of County Commissioners erected a monument whose inscription reads, “This burial ground was established by the family of Isaac W. and Amanda Hudson who settled the Hudson community, originally known as Hudson’s Landing. The first burial was that of their daughter Melissa in 1878. This rugged pioneer family came to Florida from Alabama and lived in Madison and Chipco before moving to the Gulf Coast area seeking a healthier climate.”
After the Hudson family settled, more settlers came. Life was simple but very hard. Food was never a problem as hunting and fishing were abundant. There was plenty for everyone. The men hunted and constructed needed buildings, crafting the things needed to survive in Florida’s climate, while the women did a lot of cooking, sewing, and quilting.
The first school in Hudson was a small log cabin and students attended only three months out of the year.
Big Wheels start Turning in Hudson
In 1885 a railroad between Tampa and Brooksville was built. The days of coastwise shipping by sail were numbered and soon after, this colorful period of Florida’s Gulf history was over.
In 1902, a connecting railroad was nearing completion, called the Brooksville and Hudson Railroad. It opened in 1904, with free rides given from Brooksville to Hudson and back as part of the celebration.
Another aspect of the early Hudson prosperity came from Week’s turpentine camp. Then a big company from Georgia came in and built a huge woodmill. The town grew when the Fivay Company began cutting lumber and shipping it by rail to Tampa. Unfortunately, the mill shut down when there were no more trees to cut. Then the turpentine mill burned down. Hudson was forever changed.
During the Civil War, the coastline along Hudson was frequently used as a port for Confederate blockade-runners when the Federal Navy had all of the principal ports on the coast closed.
Rumor has it that the coast was a rendezvous point for rum runners and smugglers during the prohibition era. The vast coves and inlets accessible only by boat allowed these real-life pirates to run their illicit operations with little interference.
On July 21, 2016, Beth Gray, a Tampa Bay Times correspondent wrote a fascinating article that tells the story of Heritage Pines resident Herb Elliott and his wife Paula coming across a 270-foot deep sinkhole with layers and layers of Paleo Indian artifacts. (The Paleo period is believed to be 9000 – 12000 years ago.)
The Elliotts were excited about their find and recovered over 3,500 artifacts including arrows and various tools used by the Paleo indians. Today, pictures of the artifacts are viewable at the Heritage Pines clubhouse.
Fivay.org tells us that on Dec. 24, 1953, the New Port Richey Press reported, “Street lights were installed this week in Hudson, on the Gulf. Hudson now has street lighting, telephone service, water system and other city conveniences. The purchase of the light fixtures and automatic switches was made possible by a fish fry and donations from the citizens of the community, with the cooperation of the Withlacoochee River Electric Co-op, who installed fixtures and switches. Seventeen lights were installed at this time, with automatic switches to operate them, lights will burn all night.”
In 1959 Hudson boasted a beautiful new public beach. Development began in the area, with canals being carved out to build homes, which affected the commercial fishing business. A side effect of this development crippled Hudson’s commercial fishing industry. Fortunately, today fish are abundant, and quite a few charter boats are available with captains for hire.
Hudson Florida Offers Fun Activities, Dining, and Magical Sunsets
Today’s Hudson is a beautiful little coastal town to live in or visit. There are several parks and plenty of popular local places to eat, drink, and have fun.
A day on the beach at Sunwest Park is heavenly and exciting at the same time. The beautiful white sand and water await those looking for a calm day of rest and relaxation or an adrenaline-pumping adventure.
The Lift Adventure Park is located at Sunwest Beach. They offer wakeboarding, a rope-free floating obstacle course for those who love adventure with no limits. There is also the floating bounce house, kayaking, and canoes. Professionals are on-site to provide support on all levels and these activities require reservations and cost.
A visit to the Florida Exotic Bird Sanctuary is an unforgettable experience. A caring environment including parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and more is a wonderful experience. Trip101.com tells us, “Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a diverse array of colorful birds, including parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and many other fascinating species. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers will guide you through the facility, sharing insights into the birds’ stories and the importance of conservation efforts on its guided tours.” Reservations are required for tours.
Thrill seekers can dive into an immersive experience at Hudson Escape Rooms full of twists, turns, and puzzles that must be completed before the clock runs out. Trip101 describes the experience as a “fantastic and immersive activity that challenges the mind and fosters teamwork in a thrilling setting.”
Hudson is a Great Day Trip on the Nature Coast
Hudson is the place for adventure on the Gulf of Mexico. Right next to Skeleton Key Marina or Hudson Marina you can get a boat with a captain and head out to sea for the day. When you come back, the beach and ice-cold beverages will be waiting.
If you’re a fan of coastal cuisine, there are many fantastic places to visit. Next to Hudson Beach, there is Sam’s Beach Bar where you can sit on the deck and watch the colors of a magnificent Gulf sunset right before your eyes.
Some of the best seafood around is at Inn on the Gulf, where everything is fresh and delicious. Their escargot is to die for! For burgers and ice-cold beverages, there’s Ollies on the Beach. All of these wonderful spots have outside seating for your enjoyment. To top it all off, one can’t skip the Hudson Ice Cream parlor.
Hudson is a small coastal town that perfectly captures the essence and feel of coastal Florida living.
- Tampa Bay Times