Sanford’s history centers around the Seminole wars of the 1830’s. This area was the site of an Army post named Fort Melton. As settlers moved into the area, it became known as the town of Mellonville. With the advent of commercial steamboat service, the town became a distribution point of goods essential for the growth of Central Florida.
In 1870, Henry Shelton Sanford purchased the land west of Mellonville. He planned for a new city, “the Gate City of South Florida,” which he believed would become the transportation hub for all of southern Florida. In 1877, the city of Sanford was incorporated and Mellonville was annexed six years later. In 1880, Henry S. Sanford formed a land company in London to encourage investments in the new city. That same year construction began on South Florida Railway with a terminus in Sanford. By 1884, Sanford was a prosperous town with wharves, a railroad station and a large hotel.
Mr. Sanford’s greatest interest in Florida was the development of Belair, a citrus grove and experimental garden near Sanford. More than 140 varieties of citrus, including the Valencia Orange, were tested for the Florida climate.
Today Seminole County is established and Sanford is one of the largest cities and the county seat.
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