Home > Residents > Parks > Rob Bradley Conservation Park at Nelson Point

Rob Bradley Conservation Park at Nelson Point

Rob Bradley Conservation Park at Nelson Point (aka Bradley Park) encompasses 10 acres of pristine water front conservation land on Doctors Lake. Senator Rob Bradley was instrumental in obtaining the funding to purchase and preserve this property. Bradley Park was acquired by Clay County in December of 2018 for $1.9 million. The Board of County Commissioners adopted a Resolution to name the park Rob Bradley Conservation Park in August of 2019, and the park was deeded to the Town of Orange Park in December of 2019. This partnership in conservation with the BCC, the Town of Orange Park and our Clay County Legislative Delegation, will preserve this beautiful place forever, and help protect the water quality along Doctors Lake.

The park officially opened on March 1, 2023. The Town continues to work on improvements to the park and to add amenities. Improvements include replacement of culverts, sewer connection and many others. The Town was recently awarded a FRDAP grant to fund additional amenities and projects such as nature trails, observation areas and a kayak launch. Bradley Park was purchased through Florida Forever funds and will remain a nearly-natural park in perpetuity.


Rob Bradley Conservation Park at Nelson Point is located at:
670 Nelson Drive
Orange Park, FL 32073

Park History

Originally the land today known as Rob Bradley Conservation Park was native hunting a trading grounds as evidenced by verified Indian Mounds nearby. During the British period of Florida History (1763- 1784), the land was part of the Upper Crisp grant issued to James Crisp who never actually came to the country. Still, measurements were made, and descriptions issued, legitimizing the claim.

During the American Revolution the land was part of “Laurel Grove Plantation”, under the ownership of William and Rebecca Pengree. It was developed into a successful working plantation with slaves, multiple buildings, and a functioning sawmill. After the revolution, the Pengrees, who were Loyalists, were forced out by the Spanish who regained control of the territory. It was only because of the sawmill that the Spanish later agreed to let the Pengrees return. A brisk business arrangement was conducted between the Pengrees and the Spanish. Following Mr. Pengree’s death and amidst growing Native threats, Rebecca sold Laurel Grove to Zephaniah Kingsley. He continued and expanded the plantation, until 1814 when the plantation was burned during the Patriot’s Rebellion. After the War of 1812 ended, John Houston McIntosh bought Laurel Grove, including the land used as Rob Bradley Conservation Park. Similar agricultural activities continued until the Civil War. Things slowed down considerable at that time.

After the Town of Orange Park was formed in 1877, Henry Hezekiah Horton bought the property around Nelson Point and started a sawmill of his own. Webb’s History of Florida, 1885, says the Horton Sawmill” turned out 7,500 ft of lumber per day and employed seven men. It used a 25-horsepower engine to make boards, laths and shingles.” H.H. Horton died in 1899.

Carnes Fish House started in 1893 at the end of Kingsley Ave. but moved to Doctors Lake in 1914, onto the sawmill property. They packed and shipped fish all along the east coast. The fish were caught by seine nets, hoop nets, gill nets, wire traps and trot lines. They processed many thousand pounds each day. They dressed the catfish, but the bream and speckled perch were shipped the way they were. Those bream and perch in barrels- layers of fish, layers of chipped ice, in a pattern until the barrel was full. Then they were shipped out by boats and trains. The Fish House paid three to five cents per pound for rough catfish; that is unskinned and six to nine cents for dressed cats. Those were already skinned. Fishermen fished Doctors Lake, the river and creeks. It was hard work in all types of weather. J V. Carnes’ fish house was at the end of Carnes St., on Doctors Lake. He had an ice house where he stored blocks of ice that would be shaved and used to pack fish. This kept the fish fresh during shipment. Mr. Carnes passed away in 1938.

In 1948, after serving in World War II, John Nelson bought the property that is now called Rob Bradley Conservation Park at Nelson Point. He lived there with his wife, June, passing away in 2016. John loved the land and took great pride in showing off things about it he found. He could drive his arm into the shoreline mud and bring it back up full of what looked like freshly cut wood. The sawmill’s shadow still lingers.

The history of Nelson Point is the history of Orange Park. It deserves to be recognized for its part of the story of who we are.

History narrative provided by Cindy Cheatwood.

Back to
Tickets & Deals