Saturday, August 1, 2009

Safety Harbor Mounds - Safety Harbor, Florida

One of the most significant archaeological and historic sites in Florida can be found in a beautiful bayfront park in Safety Harbor, located just north of St. Petersburg.

Philippi Park in Safety Harbor is the site of the Safety Harbor Mounds, a major archaeological site that was once the capital of the Tocobaga Indians. The site's large temple mound still remains, its flat top accessible by way of a unique stone staircase.

Safety Harbor was an important Native American town when the first Spanish explorers arrived in Florida. Panfilo de Narvaez passed through this vicinity in 1528, but it is not clear if he actually visited the Safety Harbor site. The same is true of Hernando de Soto, who landed in the Tampa Bay area in 1539.

In 1566, however, Pedro Menendez de Aviles came to Safety Harbor after establishing St. Augustine, the first permanent European settlement in the United States. He attempted to arrange a peace treaty between the Tocobaga and their neighbors to the South, the Calusa.

Menendez also established a fort at Safety Harbor, the exact site of which has not been found. Spanish soldiers remained there for only a year, however, before the warriors of the village rose up and killed them all. A key missionary of the time blamed the uprising on cruelty committed against the Tocobaga by the soldiers.

To learn more about the Safety Harbor Mounds, please visit

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