Cracker Creek is an environmental and historical
treasure of Port Orange. Located at 1795 Taylor
Road, on the western side of scenic Spruce Creek,
this 20 acre sanctuary is a natural home for a
variety of endangered plants and animals that can
be seen by boat or by foot. Cracker Creek is a pure
nature preserve and is perfect for many recreational
activities such as boating, bird watching, canoeing,
The lifeline of Cracker Creek preserve is a unique
natural black water system known as Spruce Creek.
It is a rare waterway because it remains as one of a
few unspoiled streams in Florida. Touring the channels
of Cracker Creek by boat is an enriching experience for
everyone. While slowly drifting down these streams,
many different habitats can be seen including dense forests,
saltwater swamps, freshwater bogs, and cypress marshes.
Within these wetlands and winding cypress trees, alligators,
raccoons, various types of lizards, Florida Sandhill Cranes,
Yellow-Crowned Night Herons, and Red-Cockaded
Woodpeckers can easily be found.
Like explorers of old, visitors can easily experience this
pristine land and river ways on their own or as a group.
Cracker Creek’s launch site is the only public access to
Spruce Creek west of Highway US1. For a $5.00 fee, visitors
can easily launch their own canoes and kayaks or can rent
them at an hourly rate (ranging from $20-$50). Rentals
include life vests, safety gear and paddles. Pontoon guided
tours can be arranged for small groups as well as short pirate
boat rides. Picnic areas, restroom facilities and concessions
are convenient to the handicap-accessible boat launch.
Though Cracker Creek is now privately owned by the
Williams family, its origins lie in Florida’s ranching heritage.
The name Cracker Creek comes from the cowboys and cattle
ranches that once inhabited the area. The cowboys’ would
use long cowhide whips while herding their cows and made
loud cracking noises, thus they became known as crackers.
It was James N. Gamble, of the Procter and Gamble fame, however,
who made Cracker Creek well known. A frequent winter visitor,
Gamble discovered this uninhibited land by paddling down
Spruce Creek during the 1890s. An ardent outdoorsman, Gamble
realized this pristine area had much to offer. He built his hunting
and fishing retreat and the adjacent orange packing barn. When
Gamble died on July 2, 1932, the Gamble Place was willed to his
two daughters, Olivia and Maud. Maud married Judge Alfred K.
Nipper, who designed and built a house modeled after the
cottage in the movie Snow White in 1938. Dubbed Snow White’s
cottage, this quaint little abode is still explored and children of
all ages can enjoy a story time with Snow White. Gamble’s
cracker house as well as the original homestead of his
caretaker, of Roland “Rollie” F. Johnson, is still explored
by history lovers today.