b'Longtime Florida RV Parks, Campgrounds Offer History, a Chance Henry Boyd Hamilton, pictured here as a young boy, is a sec-to Camp in Beautiful Locations ond-generation owner of Boyds Campground in Key West, Fla.nBY JEFF CRIDERment in the United States, predating the Itsabigdealwhenfamily-ownedEnglish settlement at Jamestown by 42 parks hit the 50-year mark, a testamentyears and the Pilgrims landing at Ply-to the hard work, tenacity and persever- mouth Rock by 55 years. ance of usually multiple generations ofMembers of the Usina family, for their the same family.part, are deeply woven into St. Augus-Woodalls Campground Magazine re- tines history. By the late 1800s, Frank cently visited with the owners and oper- Usinasgrandfather,FrankAndreu ators of three of Floridas oldest privateUsina, landed a job in Miami working as family-owned parks, each of which hasa carpenter for Henry Flaglers Florida beenaroundfrombetween52to88East Coast Railway, which Flagler devel-years. These parks include North Beachoped along with several hotels to bring Camp Resort in St. Augustine, founded in1968,BoydsCampgroundinKeyNorth Beach Camp Resorts owners have West, established in 1963, and the Redroots in the area that stretch into the 1800s.Coconut RV Park in Fort Myers Beach, built-in 1932. These parks, each located in distinct geographic locations in Florida, are not only a testament to the enduring com-mitment of multiple generations of the same families, but the longevity of their businesses reflect the extent to which the entire state of Florida has been a va-cation destination of choice for families from the Midwest, the Northeast and eastern Canada. North Beach Camp Resortin St. AugustineResidents of the coldest areas of the easternU.S.havebeenescapingto Florida in winter for at least 150 years,tourists into Florida. Flagler, of course, according to eighty-six-year-old Frankwas the wealthy entrepreneur who co-Usina,whohelpedhisfatherbuildfounded Standard Oil Company with North Beach Camp Resort in St. Augus- John D. Rockefeller in 1870. But Flagler tine in the late 1960s.is also widely credited for helping to cre-At the end of the Civil War, Usinaate the initial railroad and hotel infra-said, people came to Jacksonville andstructuretosupportthegrowthof St. Augustine during the winter. It wasFloridas tourism industry. felt that it was good for their health to getFrank Andreu Usina met Flagler in out of the ice and snow.February 1900 during one of Flaglers The challenge immediately after thevisits to North Beach.CivilWar,however,wasgettingto Flagler was out sailing one day, and Florida. The railroad in the 1860s onlyhe asked my grandparents if they could went as far south as Jacksonville, in theprepare a meal of roasted oysters for him extremenortheastpartofthestateand a group of his friends. They agreed about 30 miles south of the Georgia bor- and after the meal, they passed around der, with a narrow-gauge line runninga hat and they ended up paying my another 30 miles south to St. Augustine.grandparents more than a weeks salary, Usina knows his history. His familysFrank Usina said. roots in northwest Florida stretch backThat successful experience serving more than 250 years.Flagler and his friends no doubt encour-Wecameoverinthe1700sfromaged the Usinas to continue providing Menorca, Spain, Usina said, noting thatvisitors to North Beach with fresh local his ancestors initially left Spain in 1768oysters, roasted over an oak fire, as well as indentured servants to work in an in- as other foods of Menorcan origin, such digo plantation on New Smyrna Beach,as Perlo, a rice dish mixed with vegeta-south of Daytona, then migrated up tobles and peppers. St. Augustine after that.They served meals and had dances, St. Augustine, of course, is a historicalFrank Usina said, adding that his grand-site in its own right. Initially settled byparentsalsoprovidedboattoursof Spanish colonists in 1565, it is the oldestMatanzas Bay and they established a continually occupied European settle- fish camp. In short, the Usina familys roots in the hospitality business in North Beach stretch back at least to 1900. The Usina familys restaurant busi-ness continued in various forms and with various names, including Usinas Pavilion and Oscars Old Florida Restau-rant until a fire destroyed the building in 2001.TheUsinafamilyrebuiltthe restaurant in 2009 and called it Aunt Kates, in honor of Catherine Usina. Beforebuildingthecampground, however, Francis Usina, known locally as Captain Usina, spent many years taking tourists on sightseeing tours of Matan-zas Bay, while his wife, Mary, pioneered the development of North Beach by pur-chasing extensive tracts of land from the Ken and Traci Usina railroad. They started a private utility company in 1970 that provided water 28 November 2021Woodalls Campground Magazine'