AMELIA EARHART PARK
The site Amelia Earhart Park currently sits in was part of Naval Air Station Miami, specifically it was an undeveloped portion of the park which was used for training exercises, storage and other activities. There are stories from old timers who remember it being used as wild hog hunting grounds, a munitions storage facility and at one point an unofficial city dump.
Site of Amelia Earhart Park in 1953.
The "Miami-Dade County Regional Park" sat in the southern undeveloped portion of decades-old Naval Air Station Miami. It was never an airport and never part of the City of Miami-owned Miami Municipal Airport which was on the east side of LeJeune Road (small V-shape on the bottom right side of the picture) and south of NW 119th Street (E. 65th Street) in Hialeah.
When the Navy discontinued operations at Naval Air Station Miami the U. S. Marine Corps moved to the Navy property from Master Field, another large airport on NW 27th Avenue, east of Amelia Earhart Field. Marine Corps Air Station Miami only operated a couple of years before the Marines shut it down.
Site of Amelia Earhart Park in 1970.
The federal government's General Services Administration was then charged with disposition of the property and they granted a Dade County bid to assume ownership of the air station's existing airport facilities except for a portion reserved for the U. S. Coast Guard's Air Station Miami. The county named the airport "Opa-locka Airport" due to the name of the city immediately east of the airport. Community leaders, notably Bill Graham (dairy farmer and developer of the Miami Lakes community) successfully lobbied the federal government to be granted about half of the property on the southern portion of the former Naval Air Station, extending from LeJeune Road westward to approximately W. 2nd Avenue in Hialeah, to be given to the county for a large regional park.
The remaining southern portion of undeveloped air station land was auctioned off to private developers west and north of Amelia Earhart Regional Park. Amelia Earhart's Farm Village is named after Bill Graham, son of former state senator Ernest R. "Cap" Graham, and the developer of the Miami Lakes residential and commercial development west of Opa-locka Executive Airport.
Site of Amelia Earhart Park in 1984. Note that Gratigny Parkway was not built until 1992.
Though sources differ as to when exactly mountain bike trails were first built, it is estimated that it came to be sometime in the early-1990's when around 3-4 miles of trail were built by Chris Marshall, the owner of The Broken Spoke bicycle shop along with a handful of regular clients.
A huge issue Amelia Trails have had since the very beginning is the ultra-fast vegetation growth, which made it nearly impossible to keep open year-round. We know that early on, the trails were only ride able during winter months, when the vegetation would halt its growth and allowed for cutting crews to enter and clean up trails.
Amelia Earhart Park as of 2020.
Earliest available photo of the Site c. 1940
Overlay with current park photo shows low lying areas with melaleucas already in existance, dispelling the myth these were planted by the Army Corps of Engineers during the 1960's.
Rough sketch with rezoning proposal for a "Gratigny Park" - 1967
Formal proposal for rezoning now being called "Gratigny Regional Park" - 1968