Chiefland
Population (2016)
2,225
Area (Square miles)
6.2
Year founded
Mid 1850's
Year incorporated
1913
To understand the name of this historic Florida city, you need to go a long way back in time. Before Spaniards arrived in Florida, much of the area in what is now Levy County was home to the Timucuan Indians.who farmed the land. A chief ruled each tribe, and those chiefs answered to a head chief. The head chief owned the land where Chiefland stands today. Legendary (and perhaps historical) accounts say that Hernando de Soto, the Spanish conquistador, came to the area in 1539 and wiped out most of the Indians. But their historical occupation of the area was commemorated when the town that sprung up there was incorporated as "Chiefland" in 1913.

Years before it was incorporated, Chiefland was an important center for raising cattle, growing peanuts, and especially for growing watermelons. The city holds a watermelon festival on the first Saturday of June to honor what continues to be its most important farm product. The festival has been an annual tradition since 1954.

In the early 1900's, Chiefland began to prosper, in large part because of the arrival of the railroad. The Chiefland Train Depot was built in 1913, allowing livestock, watermelons, and other goods and produce to be shipped to northern cities. The depot was closed, and the building moved to Oldtown, Floirda in 1982. Eventually, local Chiefland citizens and business leaders raised the funds to buy the old depot building back, and had it moved once again to Chiefland with much celebration. The building was restored and now houses the Chiefland Train Depot Museum. The museum sits adjacent to the Nature Coast State Trail, which follows the path of the original railroad line.

Another annual festival held in Chiefland is the Christmas Festival and Parade. The parade is accompanied with craft vendors, children's activities, free entertainment, and of course an appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and their elves.

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