The Forgotten Rivers of Jacksonville

June 18, 2015 11 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The St. Johns River isn't the only river in the River City! Today, Metro Jacksonville's Kristen Pickrell takes a look at Jacksonville's other rivers, while sharing interesting facts about each.

Locator Map

1. Cedar River

The Cedar River wanders through the Westside before joining the Ortega River. Popular with weekend anglers, fish that travel between the Cedar River and the St. Johns River are also caught be commercial fisherman.

The Cedar River is on the west side of Jacksonville, running into the Ortega River just west of Roosevelt Boulevard.
One reason you should get to know the Cedar River is for its history. Back in the 1930s, the Cedar River was actually supposed to be home to a Works Progress Administration (WPA) park. The WPA was a large “New Deal” agency instituted under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The WPA employed millions of unskilled workers, operated arts and literacy programs, fed children, and redistributed housing and clothing during the Great Depression. Almost every city had a bridge, school, or park built by the WPA at this time, and during its peak, the WPA provided almost 8 million jobs.

The Great Depression had hit Jacksonville hard, and in 1934, the WPA offered to build us a 3,5000-acre park system. The park would have stretched nearly 15 miles, starting at Cedar River and connecting Ribault River and Ortega River to form a greenbelt around urban Jacksonville that would stimulate economic development. However, ultimately, city leaders didn’t see the value of spending their money, so the park was never built.  

Another reason you should know Cedar River is for the Cedar River Restaurant. This restaurant chain was established locals Kathy and Roland Bell, who both came from seafood and restaurant backgrounds. The Cedar River Restaurant was the Bell’s first restaurant, which opened up in 1976. Their goal was simple—served good seafood at a reasonable price, and doing it in a family atmosphere.  

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