The recorded history from the 1500’s tells of a time when the Spanish Explorers, French Huguenots, early settlers, and the Native American’s clashed. When Don Pedro Menendez, founder of St. Augustine, came across Lake George and down the St. Johns River in the early 1500s, he was turned back in a skirmish with Native American tribal people near Astor.
Astor is one of the liveliest and most involved communities along this stretch of SR 40. There is an active Historical Society and a relevant Library both committed to preserving the unique history of the area. Ancient tribal people, Spanish Explorers, the wealthy Astor’s of New York, and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings all factor into the colorful history of this community.
Trader James Spaulding opened his “Upper Store” on the St. Johns River in 1763, noted by William Bartram as a stop along his Travels. By 1838, a crude log fortress, Fort Butler, replaced the trading post along the riverbank, and Astor’s post office opened in 1839. The name Astor came from William Astor, grandson of New York shipping magnate John Jacob Astor, who purchased a large chunk of Moses Levy’s land grant and proceeded to lay out a 12,000-acre town called Manhattan. He built the Hotel Astor and a steamship dock, planning to cash in on the tourist trade. The town took the name “Astor” in 1884.
In the 1930s, Majorie Kinnan Rawlings met with families like the Dillard’s and heard stories that became part of her award winning novel “The Yearling.”
Today’s Astor offers relaxing accommodations along the St. Johns River, campgrounds with RV sites, and several fine restaurants.
Just a few miles north of Astor is Lake George, the second largest fresh water lake in Florida. Just south of Astor is Lake Dexter and Lake Woodruff, home to some of the best bass fishing in the world.