About the Town of Bell
Best known for its friendly southern hospitality and small town atmosphere, the Town of Bell is the second largest town in Gilchrist County, with a population of just under 500 residents. The town is located about 30 miles west of Gainesville, and just east of the beautiful, historic Suwannee River.
Founded in the early 1890's, and incorporated in the early 1900's, the town got it's name from a beauty contest winner, Bell Fletcher, when her name was given to the first post office and the train depot, as part of the contest prize.
In 1903, a railroad was built through Bell and would serve as the primary transportation for shipping timber, lime rock, farm products, and other commodities to market. The train was called "Peggy" and ran every day leaving Starke, Florida, early in the morning, passing through Brooker, La Crosse, Alachua, and Bell, on its route to Wannee at the Suwannee River. It would turn around and return to Starke the same day. The train depot was built around 1905, and W.C. Cocke was it's first telegraph agent in 1907. The restored historic depot now serves as the Bell Town Hall.
The Bell school, which originated with one class room and one teacher for all grades, has grown to become one of the best schools in the State of Florida. In fact, the Gilchrist County School District was the only one of the state's 67 school systems to get an A grade in all of its schools this year and it's the first and only straight-A district in the history of Florida's school grades. A number of Bell graduates have returned after College to bring their skills back to serve the community where they grew up.
There is a lot of rich history in and around Bell. Many of the descendants of the founding fathers and local residents are happy to share some fond memories and tales of the good ole' days.
We hope your visit with us is enjoyable and we look forward to spending time with each of you.