Exploring Clay County Port / Reynolds Park

November 3, 2010 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Located 25 miles south of Jacksonville, the Clay County Port/Reynolds Park is one of the few locations in Northeast Florida with full access to land, air, water and rail.

About Lee Field

In September 1940, the U.S. Navy opened Naval Air Station Lee Field in honor of Ensign Bejamin Lee who had lost his life in a crash at Killinghome, England during World War I. In August 1943, the facility was renamed Naval Air Station Green Cove Springs (Lee Field) and consisted of four 5000 ft asphalt runways.[4][5] After the war, NAS Green Cove Springs was downgraded in status to a Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) as part of the greater NAS Jacksonville complex. A total of 13 piers were also constructed along the west bank of the St. Johns River adjacent to NAAS Green Cove Springs (Lee Field) to house a U.S. Navy "Mothball Fleet" of some 600 vessels, primarily destroyers, destroyer escorts and fleet auxiliaries. In 1960, the Navy decommissioned NAAS Green Cove Springs and the pier facility. Some of the mothballed vessels were transferred to foreign navies while others were relocated to other Reserve Fleet locations.

In 1984, the city annexed the former naval base into the city to utilize it for further growth and development as the Clay County Port and Reynolds Industrial Park. The air station is now a private airfield known as Reynolds Airpark (FAA airfield identifier: FL60) with a single 5000 ft asphalt runway currently operational, although reportedly in poor condition.[6][7] Although the original air station air traffic control tower is still standing, attached to one of the former Navy aircraft hangars, the airfield remains an uncontrolled facility.

History of the Mothball Fleet

The United States Navy maintains a number of its ships as part of a reserve fleet, often called the "Mothball Fleet". While the details of the activity have changed several times, the basics are constant: keep the ships afloat and sufficiently working as to be reactivated quickly in an emergency.

In some cases (for instance, at the outset of the Korean War), many ships were successfully reactivated at a considerable savings in time and money. The usual fate of ships in the reserve fleet, though, is to become too old and obsolete to be of any use, at which point they are sent for scrapping or are scuttled in weapons tests. In rare cases the general public may intercede for ships from the reserve fleet that are about to be scrapped; usually asking for the Navy to donate them for use as museums or memorials.

Around 1912, the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and the Pacific Reserve Fleet were established as reserve units, still operating ships, but on a greatly reduced schedule. After World War II, with hundreds of ships no longer needed by a peacetime Navy, each fleet consisted of a number of groups corresponding to storage sites, each adjacent to a shipyard for easier reactivation.

Many of the deactivated WWII merchant vessels were of a class called the "Liberty ship" which was a mass-produced ocean-going transport which was used primarily in the convoys going to/from the United States, Europe and Russia. These Liberty Ships were also used as the Navy's support vessel for its fleet of warships and to ferry forces across the Pacific and Atlantic. It was a race between how fast the United States could build these ships and how fast the German U-Boats could sink them, and the Liberty Ship was significant in maintaining the beleaguered United Kingdom.

Most of these Liberty Ships when deactivated were put into "mothball fleets" strategically located around the coasts of the United States. They began to be deactivated and scrapped in the early 1970s.

The groups of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet were at Boston, Charleston, Florida, New London, MOTBY/New York Harbor, Norfolk, Philadelphia, and Texas. The groups of the Pacific Reserve Fleet were at Alameda, Bremerton, Columbia River, Long Beach, Mare Island, San Diego, San Francisco, Stockton, and Tacoma.

About Clay County Port/Reynolds Park

- Reynolds Park is a 1700 acre complex located on the St. Johns River in Green Cove Springs, Florida. It is just 25 miles south of Jacksonville.

- Reynolds Park is served by railroad (CSX), highway (16 miles to I-10 or I-95), water (1.1 miles of bulkhead, 13 piers) and a private airport (5,000’ runway).

- This unique facility provides affordable infrastructures for a wide range of uses. Types of businesses found in the Park include seafood processing, aviation technologies, railcar repair, pipe manufacturing and distribution, and boat manufacturing.


Holland Marine is a one-stop yacht maintenance and repair facility specializing in power and sailing vessels up to 65' in length.

Southeastern Sandblasting and Painting, Inc. was established in 1992 originally located in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. In 2004 owner Edwin Harwell purchased two drydocks and equipment located on the St. Johns River in Green Cove Springs,Florida establishing Southern Drydock, Inc.. Relocating Southeastern Sandblasting and Painting to the Green Cove Springs location (formally known as Sunstate Shipyard) has enabled the companies to join forces offering our customers a wide variety of ship repair and maintenance capabilities.

The Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company has grown to become America's largest dredging contractor. Based out of Oak Brook, IL, over the last 120 years, famed projects this company has worked on includes the Jacksonville Harbor, Chicago's Navy Pier and shoreline reclamation for that city's Shedd Aquarium and Soldier Field.  Green Cove Springs is one of the company's two locations in Florida.

The Jacks or Better (above) and Sun Cruz Casino (below) cruise ships currently docked at Green Cove Springs.

The Green Cove Springs Marina has been in business at this location for 22 years.

MOBRO Marine is a full service marine equipment company that has been meeting the needs of the construction and marine industries since 1962. Our primary facility is located on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida and is equipped to handle any and all marine related concerns.

We also have a facility in Tampa, allowing us to service your needs in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

We offer inland and ocean towing as well as equipment rentals, sales and service of Barges, Tugs, Cranes, Pile Hammers and Jet Pumps. We also offer overhaul and maintenance services on marine engines and large diesel equipment.

Providing a high level of service to achieve customer satisfaction is the hallmark of the company and has allowed MOBRO Marine to grow and prosper over the last 5 decades.

Reynolds Park Yacht Center

Reynolds Park Yacht Center has a rich history and an exciting future. Formerly known as Lee Field Naval Air Station, it was the site of one of the largest U.S. aviation training facilities during World War II. In 1946 this 1700-acre complex, located on the St. Johns River, was developed into a marine terminal to securely house the Mothball Fleet of WWII ships. Over 600 ships were stationed here until, under his first executive order, President Johnson decommissioned the facility and moved the fleet to Texas, his home state.
The Navy relinquished the facility and industrialist J. Louis Reynolds, former chairman of Reynolds Metal Company, established Reynolds Park in 1965. The park remains in the family today and is now home to a diverse variety of businesses, local and international. Since established the waterfront and piers had been used mainly for commercial vessels, dredging equipment, ship building and repairing.
Most marinas are in restricted spaces with no room to expand. With the increasing size and number of yachts creating a demand for more yacht facilities it was decided in 2002 to develop part of the waterfront as a yacht marina to take advantage of the existing piers and available space.

After (above) and Before (below): Condition of waterfront today and in the late 1960s.

The Sea Voyager and Cape Cod Light are 301 passenger ships built by Atlantic Marine (Jacksonville, FL) and launced in 2001.  The ships have been moored at Green Cove Springs since the 2001 bankruptcy of American Classic Voyages.

National Gypsum manufacturs cement wallboard at this Green Cove Springs facility.

National Gypsum Company is a fully integrated building products manufacturer and one of the leading gypsum board producers in the world. Placed end-to-end, the company’s annual gypsum board production would travel around the earth over 14 times. National Gypsum also offers a full line of interior finishing products including joint compounds, tape, and textures. Its growing cement board product line has a strong customer base in the United States and several other countries.

The company, headquartered in Charlotte,NC, has over 50 locations including, laboratories; mines and quarries; paper mills; gypsum board, interior finishing products,and cement board plants and sales regions.

North Florida Railway Museum

Welcome to the North Florida Railway Museum. We are located in the Reynolds Industrial Park in Green Cove Springs, FL, only 30 minutes South of Jacksonville. Our museum currently includes six pieces of equipment in Green Cove Springs, with several other pieces located in Jacksonville waiting moving or sale.

The NFRM was established in the 1989 to preserve, restore, and display the vast railroad history of North Florida via its equipment, library, models, various displays, and promotion of railroad safety.

The Military Museum of North Florida.

While the mission of the Military Museum of North Florida is to honor those whom have served their country in the Armed Forces, one of the goals of the museum is to ensure that our youth understand the dedication and sacrifices that those veterans demonstrated and endured.

A significant number of military oriented events have shaped the foundation and direction of this country, from the American Revolution to the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and our current actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of these actions have caused significant changes in the direction of the American political and social scene. The museum is prepared to coordinate with the Clay County School System to provide student visits oriented toward the era that their history classes are studying. We are prepared to provide guided, narrative tours emphasizing the period that the class is studying.

Additionally, the museum has an extensive military reference library covering from the evolution of warfare through our current hostilities in Southwest Asia. We have over 400 volumes (not counting periodicals) that are available for students to use in research of a particular period of history.

The museum is also developing a "Living History" library videotaping veterans who have served their country giving their views of the war in which they were involved. These first hand recollections, particularly of World War II, Korea and now Vietnam are fast becoming unavailable. All these interviews will be available to serious students.

Watco's Green Cove Springs shop is a combined railcar repair and locomotive facility.  This facility can hold a complete unit coal train in addition to cars for other type repairs.

Above: Johns-Manville Corporation asbestos pipe manufacturing plant in 1967 (1965-1982).  Johns-Manville would become JM Manufacturing in 1983 before eventually being closed in 2000.  Below: The abandoned Johns-Manville plant site today.

State Road 16 was renamed Leonard C. Taylor Parkway in Spring 2010.  Leonard C. Taylor started Taylor Concrete & supply Inc. in 1978 with just a couple of trucks and a handful of employees.  This company grew into what would become Taylor Precast Inc., with 100 trucks, 350 employees and eight plants.  Taylor's original concrete plant was located in Reynolds Park, just off of State Road 16.

The Clay County Port is located along the St. Johns River, just south of Green Cove Springs and west of the Shands Bridge.

Article by Ennis Davis