DID YOU KNOW?
Previous to the undertaking: "After coasting along a series of creeks abounding in lobsters and oysters, the "Tampico" entered the bay of Espiritu Santo where she finally anchored at a small, natural harbour, formed by the embouchure of the river Hillsborough..." "Barbicane has scarcely set foot on shore when three thousand of the inhabitants of Tampa town came forth to meet him..." "Declining ovation, he ensconced himself in a room of the Franklin Hotel." Read more
"The Frenchman and two Americans entered the enclosure reserved in the center of the multitude...Ten o’clock struck. The moment had arrived for taking their places in the projectile...thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty!!! Instantly, Murchison pressed the key...An appalling, unearthly report followed...An immense spout of fire shot up from the bowels of the earth…The earth heaved up...spectators obtained a momentary glimpse of the projectile cleaving the air in the midst of fiery vapors...The glare of the flames lit up the whole of Florida..."
After the undertaking: "After the 23rd of September, the enclosure of Stones Hill was thrown open to the public, and it will be easily imagined what was the concourse of visitors to this spot. There was an incessant flow of people to and from Tampa Town, and the place, which resembled a procession, or rather, in fact, a pilgrimmage." Read more
Verne describes the exact launch location as "Stones Hill", at latitude 27 deg, 7 min north, longitude 5 deg, 7 west of the Washington (DC) meridian, which would make it longitude 82 deg, 9 min W.
"Barbicane wrote down the result of his observations.." "On that plain will be raised our magazines, workshops...and here, from this very spot, hence shall our projectile take its flight into the regions of the Solar World!"
This location is not too near Tampa, see blue circle on map. He also describes it at 1800 feet above sea level, an elevation not found in Florida. But keep in mind, this was written in 1865, and it was fiction.
A hundred years after the prophetic author who never left France wrote those lines, U.S. space projects were being launched regularly from Florida, not too far away from what Verne called "Tampa Town." There were many curious parallels between his story and the actual moon shots of today.
Jules Verne is not a prophet without honor in Tampa Town. An official marker at the approach of the Ballast Point Pier tells of the park at this scenic point being named Jules Verne Park in honor of the French writer who did so much to publicize Tampa.