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Boulonge, Florida — The Town That Lived Off Speeders

Harris Neck, Georgia

February 25, 2022

Fun story:

Somewhere just south of the St. Mary's River and the Florida-Georgia border there was a sleepy little wide spot in the road named Boulogne.

Rhymes with baloney without the y. (Too bad — I wish it rhymed with baloney!)

US-1, US-301, and US-23 all cross the St. Mary's River on a bridge just north of Boulogne at the Georgia-Florida border. In the days before Interstate 95 was built, most northerners came down to Florida on one of these three highways.

In the early 1950s the State of Florida built a welcome station at this location where tourists could get a drink of orange juice while picking up maps and brochures from tourist attractions.

Although it was the first spot incoming tourists saw in Florida, it looked pretty much like south Georgia on the other side of the river.

The tiny town had a reputation as a speed trap. The speed limit through town abruptly changed from 55 mph in Georgia to 35 in Boulogne with no warning. The local cop was always on duty and looking for out of state license tags.

The AAA identified Boulogne as a speed tramp, and since it was the first place tourists entering into Florida usually went through, it was a source of concern for the state tourism industry.

Well, the politicians in Tallahassee got wind of the situation and warned the town to slow down on the speeding tickets. That didn't work, and the one car police force stayed busy writing tickets, the main source of the town's revenue.

Sometime later, still in the 1960s, the state legislature abolished the town of Boulogne. Not long after, when Interstate 95 was completed just east of town, the tourist welcome center also closed.

Boulogne exists no more except in memory. The old welcome station and nearby motels are in ruins and overgrown with weeds. One of the old motels has been converted into a nursing home.

I'm not sure many people miss Boulogne or even remember it was there.

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