Penney Farms highway is officially “Scenic”
PENNEY FARMS – With memories of the town’s founding and an impersonation of J.C. Penney, Florida’s newest scenic highway was dedicated here on Friday, Feb. 25.
The three-mile stretch of Florida Route 16 through the town – and a loop on local roads through the town’s New Hope neighborhood and Penney Retirement Community – joins four other Northeast Florida roads officially dubbed “scenic.”
Ann Williamson of Green Cove Springs, a local historian who grew up in Penney Farms, spoke of her childhood to some 150 residents and guests at the town’s Kohler Park.
“Penney Farms was our playground,” she said, “and we frequented the pastures and woods that were our backyard. Where we are today – here in the park – was once the sawdust pile and one of our favorite places to play.
“For us, the Town of Penney Farms was a cradle-to-grave experience,” Williamson said.
A ribbon cutting on the highway was hosted by C.L. “Mike” Berg, chairman of the Citizens’ Advocacy for Scenic Highway 16, the group that, over a two-year span, arranged for the designation. The gathering at the park south of the highway was hosted by John Bowles, former city manager of Orange Park, who was in period costume impersonating James Cash Penney.
The Clay High School band of Green Cove Springs led a parade down Clark Avenue from the highway to the park. Bagpiper Arthur Tenney of Lake Asbury, a member of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Pipe and Drum Corps, played the pipes. Joe Pickens, president of St. Johns River State College, spoke at the park. He was the local state legislator when the effort to get the scenic road designation was launched.
Berg explained that the scenic label will help to preserve the highway’s noted archway of magnolia and live oak trees. It will serve to maintain Penney Farms’ small-town environment, he said. And it will offset potential damage caused by eventual widening of the two-lane road.
The other scenic highways in Northeast Florida are:
• Scenic U.S. 441 Corridor from Gainesville south past Micanopy to McIntosh, with some loop and spur roads, totaling 45 miles;
• William Barton Scenic and Historic Highway, SR 13 from Julington Creek south to Orangedale;
• A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway from Jacksonville Beach south to Ormond-by-the-Sea, and
• Heritage Crossroads: Miles of History in Flagler, Volusia and St. Johns counties, comprising Old Kings Road (19 miles), Old Brick Road (9 miles), CR 205 (4 miles), SR 100 (13 miles), SR 11 (15 miles) and John Anderson Highway (5 miles).
by Pete Geiger, Correspondent, Clay Today