Venture down country roads near Marianna, Florida to arrive at this cute family farm. Complete with a maze, cows, pigs, chickens, lawn games, live demonstrations, a general store and hay ride it makes for a fun fall adventure!
History of Lazy Acres Farm
The Lazy Acres Family Farm has been in the same family since 1854 and is owned by the great-great granddaughter of the original owner. The first member of the family to own the farm was Benjamin Neel who initially homesteaded the farm. His son, William Neel also ran the farm until his death in 1928. When William Neel II inherited the farm when his father passed away he was only eight years old and raised his first peanut crop that same year. After his time in the service he returned back to the farm where he married and had two children, one also named William. They named the homestead Lazy Acres Family Farm in 1947.
The current owners of the farm are still in the same family. They work hard to preserve their family homestead and raise cattle, pigs and chickens every year. They also farm about 100 acres of land each year. In addition they open the farm up for events seasonally.
Visiting Lazy Acres Family Farm
There is a gift shop and farm store that sells fresh meat from the farm and other local goods to visitors. When they are not open to the public you may see a booth at local farmers markets.
Every fall the farm is open to guests to explore the maze, see animals and take a hay ride! The uniqueness of this maze comes from a delightful mix of flowers and corn. Also along the maze is a scavenger hunt of fun facts that could land you a prize from the drawing at the end of the season.
Florida lore says that the Bellamy Bridge is one of the most haunted destinations in the entire state. The tale of how it grew to earn that name has been told time after time. Strange occurrences have been known to occur here since the mid-1800s and the story of the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge has been cited as the reason for those paranormal happenings.
The “Ghost” Of Bellamy Bridge
Photos have been taken at the sight which resemble strange beams of light. People along the trail and at the bridge have felt icy chills on a hot summer day and the presence of someone standing nearby.
While several local legends state sightings of ghosts including one of a moonshiner murder and another of a headless man driving a wagon the most popular is the tale of the Bellamy family.
The ghost at the site is thought to be Elizabeth Bellamy, the wife of a plantation owner who owned the land near where the bridge is presently located.
Elizabeth Bellamy had been raised on a plantation in North Carolina. Her grandfather was an officer in the American Revolution and her father was a general in the War of 1812. Elizabeth fell in love with a young doctor by the name of Samuel Bellamy. They were married at her family plantation in North Carolina. Together they had a son named Alexander.
Her sister Ann had recently married Samuel’s brother Edward. Both of the couples moved to Northwest Florida. In 1836, Samuel and Elizabeth Bellamy along with their infant son moved to Rock Cave Plantation which was located near the parking lot and land by the bridge. The actual plantation house would have been located a short distance to the southwest. Along the trail you may notice live oaks that were once planted by Dr. Samuel Bellamy as an elaborate entrance to their Antebellum home at Rock Cave Plantation. Their main crop at the plantation was Sea Island cotton. Nearby also on land that cross the trail was Terre Bonne Plantation which was owned by their relatives, Edward and Ann Bellamy who lived at the farm until 1860 before moving to Mississippi.
Elizabeth died of malaria on May 11, 1837 at the age of eighteen after only three years of marriage. Alexander, their son, died of the same illness just three days later. This tragedy left Samuel devastated and heartbroken. He buried his wife and son on a ridge in the Samuel C. Bellamy Family Cemetery at Rock Cave Plantation. According to coordinates, the cemetery is located on a ridge nearby where the Bellamy Bridge stands today but the markers have since been lost.
Samuel become severely depressed turning to alcohol to combat his sadness. He struggled with emotions of losing both his wife and child. He asked that when he died he be buried at Rock Cave Plantation beside his wife and son. In 1852, Samuel committed suicide with a straight razor at Chattahoochee Landing. Since he committed suicide they would not allow him to be buried by his wife as it was considered by religious belief to be an act of sin. He is buried somewhere in Chattahoochee in an unmarked grave site.
The ghost of Elizabeth is said to frequent the grounds nearby the Bellamy Bridge as she is restlessly in search of her husband.
History of the Bellamy Bridge
The Bellamy Bridge was constructed in 1914, long after the tragic situation of the Bellamy family but was named for them due to its presence upon what was once their plantation land. It is the oldest bridge of its type in Florida. At a total cost of $2,389 the bridge is made from steel and is last bridge to have crossed the Chipola River at this spot.
Prior to this bridge the first few bridges here were constructed of wood. The first was built in 1851, the second in 1872 and the third in 1874. All three of the previous bridges could not withstand the harsh waters during flooding season when the Chipola River would rise. The fourth bridge is the one that stands today and has stood in this spot for over 100 years.
After being declared obsolete in 1963 due to increased traffic in the area it was decommissioned and the roadway and new bridge were constructed at Highway 162.
Visiting the Bellamy Bridge
The Bellamy Bridge is free to visit and is located on Northwest Florida Water Management District land. Parking is available off of Highway 162/Jacob Road which is also the site of the trail entrance. The trail is about half a mile through the woods and ends at the Bellamy Bridge.
Every October on the Friday and Saturday before Halloween, a guided, haunted trail tour is offered using flashlights at night.
Caution: Be aware of local river levels as the path may be washed out or impassable. Also watch for wildlife as this is located in a remote destination. The trail and bridge are in a swamp and mosquitos are terrible during rainy season so bring plenty of bug spray and long sleeve clothing.