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Weird Florida: Part 1

We've all seen them: odd buildings, strange signs, things that give sleepy little towns tons of character. We met up with the author of "Weird Florida," Charlie Carlson. He's an oddity himself!

It's not too often that you get to meet a tenth generation Floridian. We sat down with him in St. Augustine, our country's oldest city and Charlie's favorite place for the weird and unexplained.

The Castillo de San Marcos is one of our country's only medieval structures. The Spanish began the 23-year construction of the fort in 1672, and over the centuries it's been known for its tales of the unexplained.

The place where ghosts are said to roam is what inspired Charlie Carlson to write "Weird Florida." He first heard about the old Spanish fort as a child and says his seventh great grandfather was captured here by the Spanish, and lucky for him, he could play a mean fiddle.

Charlie Carlson says, "He was invited to play the fiddle for the Spanish governor, and in the process all the Spaniards got drunk and my grandfather was able to make his escape."

His ancestor's great escape got Charlie hooked on history. He accepted an offer from the authors of “Weird USA” and set out on a year-long journey throughout Florida in search of the weird.

"Most things are found off the beaten path, you have to get out into the small towns to learn about the legends and ghost stories."

During his journey, Charlie returned to the Castillo San Marcos with a group called the Spook Hunters. The story about his so-called ghostly encounter is in his book. Armed with only a flash camera, he ventured into the dungeon area.

"In that flash, I saw I was standing face to face with a British soldier."

But what he thought what could've been a ghostly encounter may not have been so paranormal.

"We went back in and with a flashlight. Sure enough, there was my British soldier. It was a mannequin."

Carlson calls himself an open minded skeptic and collector of the weird, and by writing "Weird Florida," he says he hopes to remind you that Florida is more than just sunshine and orange juice.

"A lot of people think the only thing to Florida is beaches and theme parks, and I'm saying hey folks, there's a lot more to this state than you realize."

The publishers of "Weird Florida" are also working with an author to write "Weird Georgia." That's expected to come out in the spring of next year.


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