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Carney Island Recreation & Conservation AreaAmenities:
- Boat Ramps
- Hand Launch
- Picnic Pavilion
- Picnic Tables
- User Fee
- Parks and Recreation
Hours of Operation:
April - October 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM
November - March 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Daily user fee $7/vehicle
In the 1800s, the lake was named in honor of U.S. Army Lieutenant Weir, who was killed near the lake’s banks by the Seminole Indians in the early 1800s. In 1875, Captain John L. Carney and his brother E.L. Carney purchased the land now known as Carney Island. They developed a 25-acre orange grove, which later grew in size. The Carneys were responsible for propagating several new varieties of citrus, including the Parson Brown variety. For most of the last century, the area surrounding the Carney groves flourished as a citrus-producing region. The citrus was shipped by steamboat from a packinghouse on the east shore of the property across Lake Weir to the railroad. Pilings still exist on the property today from this packinghouse.
A hard freeze in 1894 wiped out the citrus trees around Lake Weir. Most groves were re-established, and citrus groves remained an important agricultural industry until another widespread freeze in 1984.
Over the years, several fruit growing companies had interest in the Carney Island property, and it was eventually acquired by the Coca-Cola Company in 1960 when they purchased the Minute Maid Corporation. In 1990, officials with Coca-Cola agreed to sell the Carney Island property to Marion County at a price below market value. The property was acquired using funds from the “Pennies for Parks” program. The site, which includes over 750+ acres of sandhill islands, causeways, wetland systems and shoreline beaches was acquired by Marion County to protect its ecological character and to provide a resource-based recreation area.