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Jiggs Landing to get a face lift

EAST MANATEE — As part of an upgrade that has just begun, the county will demolish and replace with a replica the last remaining tourist cabin from a 1940s-era fish camp that operated for decades at Jiggs Landing.

The plan originally was to renovate the little cabin overlooking the Braden River, and use it to showcase historical items about the fish camp after improvements at the five-acre site are completed, county officials said.

However, concerns about flooding and the poor condition of the cabin led to the decision to use it as a model to build a duplicate to function as a museum, according to Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Department of Natural Resources.

The little cabin and its copy are part of a $1,570,392 construction project that kicked off two weeks ago.

It will result in a number of new amenities at Jiggs Landing, including new concession building and restrooms, parking areas, playground, boardwalk, boat dock and fishing pier, along with the historically correct new cabin.

Four other cabins will be built that will be similar to the originals, but will not be exact replicas, according to Mike Sosadeeter, project manager for the county’s property management department.

They will be available for rent after the park re-opens at the end of April, he said.

In its heyday, Jiggs Landing was a remote outpost popular for its resplendent natural beauty. Its namesake was the fish camp’s long-time owner, the late Alphonso “Jiggs” Metcalf, whose business attracted tourists during the winter who rented its pastel-colored cabins.

The lonely structure surrounded by bulldozers Monday at 6101 Braden River Road is the last of the fish camp’s cabins.

“The historic cabin that was saved from the original cabins was evaluated by our architects and staff, who determined it was virtually impossible to renovate in a cost-effective manner,” said Sosadeeter. “It made more sense to just design and build a replica of the cabin.”

“It’s to replicate the experience at Jiggs Landing, so people can rent those cabins as people did historically,” he added. “They’re small, similar, with bunkbeds and a front porch, nothing more than that.”

In 1944, Jiggs and his wife, the late Agnes Spicer Metcalf, bought seven acres along the Braden River, where they offered a boat ramp, cabins, grocery, bait and tackle, and boats and motors to rent.

Agnes painted the little cabins rose, sky blue, pale green and cream, according to her niece, Sandy Metcalf, who lived at the fish camp as a youngster, The Herald has previously reported.

The county hopes to complete its upgrade April 1, with the park scheduled to re-open at the end of April, Sosadeeter said last week.

Right now, workers are in the process of clearing the site, improving grading and drainage, and building new boardwalk, fishing pier and dock, he said.

Grant money for the project has come from the county and various other sources, such as the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program and the Florida Boaters Improvement Program, Sosadeeter said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.

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