Military Trail, which runs from Jupiter to Pompano Beach, is a familiar highway to most South Floridians. A collection of shopping centers, developments and nurseries dot the roadside along this long and historic route.
Here is a picture I took of Military Trail in Boynton Beach, June 25, 2010:
So where are the six lanes of divided highway and lovely strip centers? A one lane road? This is the only glimpse left of what Military Trail probably looked like in the 1950s (my guess is that prior to that it was a shell rock road). This small stretch is in Boynton Beach and occurs where the road curves southwest, probably to avoid a once-swampy area as the road/trail was blazed. This small 1/2 mile stretch runs on both sides of the current Military Trail and is designated as “Old Military Trail.”
The Military Trail is undoubtedly the oldest “trail” in Palm Beach County, having been blazed in 1838 as part of the Seminole Indian War. The Seminoles had fled from the Jupiter area south, and left behind a blazed trail along the pine ridge that extended southward all the way to Fort Dallas (the original name for Miami). This “Pine Ridge” was the only somewhat navigable land inland. The land between the ridge and the ocean shoreline was covered with swampland. The only east-west through-way was Okeechobee Boulevard. The trail was widened by 233 soldiers of the Tennessee Volunteers; it took them 4 days to clear the 63 miles from Jupiter to the New River in Fort Lauderdale. It was first known as “Lauderdale’s Route” and was used by the army for 20 years in their battles with the Seminole Indians. After the Seminole wars had ceased, covered wagons continued to ferry freight and passengers south to Fort Lauderdale. More commonly though passengers would sail along the Intracoastal south and later the train provided passage southward.
A historical marker is located in Jupiter designating the starting point of Military Trail.