Axios Tampa Bay

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🌚 Welcome to Eclipse Monday.

🌀️ ​​Mostly sunny: 84Β°/64Β°. Keep reading for more info on how to peep the sun-moon meet-cute.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Tampa Bay member Thomas Corboy!

Today's newsletter is 832 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Ghost town guide

Ruins on Egmont Key. Photo: Selene San Felice/Axios

At first glance, Egmont Key seems like any classic Florida beach β€” a short boat ride from the dogs frolicking at Fort De Soto, families under umbrellas, shell pickers hunched over the sand, and gopher tortoises moseying around a lighthouse.

Why it matters: Ruins at the heart of the island reveal a darker past.

Flashback: In the 1850s, the key was used as a holding area for Native Americans of the Seminole tribe before they were marched on the Trail of Tears to reservations in Oklahoma.

  • Not long afterward, Confederate prisoners, escaped slaves and Union sympathizers were held on the island early in the Civil War.

Fort Dade was built there during the Spanish-American War (1898) and developed into a small military town in the early 20th century.

  • But after a hurricane, multiple fires, erosion and coastal forts of its kind becoming obsolete, Egmont Key and its fort were soon forgotten.

Flash forward: Half of the key is now blocked off as a nature preserve for nesting birds and turtles.

  • The ruins are free to explore just a few minutes' walk from the shore.

Selene here πŸ‘‹. This was somehow an equally haunting and delightful adventure.

  • During the 30-minute ride, the speakers blasted Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett while the captain told us about the island's bloody history.
  • I was so fixated on finding shells I almost forgot to wander around the ruins. Once I did, even the sunshine, crashing waves and sounds of children playing couldn't stop the eerie feeling I got looking at the crumbling armory.

Heads up: The ferry website has all the info you need before going, but I'll emphasize that there's no bathroom, food or water there.

  • For the best shelling, take the earliest ferry at 10am or get there sooner on your own boat.
People getting off the small ferry for Egmont Key.
Photo: Selene San Felice/Axios

The ferry was almost full on my Thursday morning ride, so I'd recommend getting tickets ahead of time. And know you'll have to pay a little more for tolls and parking at Ft. De Soto. Still, it's much cheaper than private charters.

Share the guide

2. Abandoned cities, mapped

Data: Axios research, including Geotab andΒ Forgotten Places; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

While many of America's other "ghost towns" are no more than memories, a few hundred still have spots like Fort Dade to visit.

  • Bodie, California, is an abandoned gold-mining town turned state historic park. Visitors can see the old church, mining museum and over 100 original buildings.
  • Capitol City, Colorado, is a remote town near Telluride created in the hopes of becoming the state capital. Now, all that's left is a post office.

Between the lines: Geotab has mapped 3,800+ of these places, but the data isn't conclusive.

  • The map above shows locations of ghost towns confirmed to have at least some sort of building ruins.

3. πŸŒ’ How to (sort of) see the eclipse

<span style="display: block;text-align: center;">Path of the April 8, 2024 eclipse</span>
Data: NASA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Even though we'll only catch a partial eclipse today, it's still worth a glance β€” behind solar glasses, of course.

Why it matters: North America won't see another sky show like this one for two decades. There've been just 16 total eclipses in the U.S. since 1869.

Zoom in: The sky is forecast to start darkening around 1:42pm.

  • The eclipse will peak at 3pm and end at about 4:15pm.

Looking for last-minute viewing party?

  • Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry is hosting one at its Primary Colors Amphitheater. Tickets ($14+) come with a pair of glasses.
  • St. Petersburg College is opening up its planetarium for a free eclipse viewing, with "specially equipped telescopes" available in the quad.
  • And there's an eclipse party at Clearwater Beach. The first 2,500 attendees get glasses. You can also catch a live sand sculpting demonstration commemorating the phenomenon.

4. The Pulp: πŸ’° Betting on the environment

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

πŸ™οΈ The Church of Scientology's footprint in downtown Clearwater grew after its members bought eight properties for $58 million last week. Only seven owners unaffiliated with the church or government remain. (Tampa Bay Times)

🎰 Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill allowing the state to use money acquired through a gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe to support environmental projects. (Creative Loafing)

πŸ›οΈ Lakeland made Juneteenth a paid holiday for city workers after calls from residents who said it was "past due." Tampa designated Juneteenth as an official holiday two years ago. (WFTS)

5. ⚾ 1 homerun penthouse to go

Water, water everywhere. Photo: YourDigitalPro, Inc.

Tropicana Field and its dome design has its share of haters, but we're betting the late Vince Naimoli was pretty fond of the view from his St. Pete penthouse.

State of play: The Bacopa Bay mega-unit where the Rays' original owner once lived recently hit the market at $2.2 million.

  • It's 3,000-square-feet and has views of Boca Ciega Bay from every room, per the listing.
A room with a red wicker chair and a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking a grove of palm trees and water.
Photo: YourDigitalPro, Inc.

The latest: The property was under contract as of today.

More pics

6. πŸ’— Give back

πŸ™ We're so thankful to our members for their support of our work through their contributions to our newsroom.

If you join as a member, you'll get insider notes from the team, birthday shoutouts in the newsletter and other perks.

  • Plus, you'll be part of our growth and ensure that our news is always free and accessible to the community.

We're grateful for your trust and continued readership.

πŸ— Selene is listening to "Maintenance Phase" dunk on Jamie Oliver.

πŸ“° Yacob is reading "Revisiting Florida 2000 and the Butterfly Effect."

πŸ“š Kathryn is starting this month's book club book, "The Lost Bookshop."

This newsletter was edited by Kristen Hinman and copy edited by Azi Najafi.