A Canadian tourist runs down the path next to Florida's largest sand dunes at American Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. American Beach is located on the southern end of the Atlantic Ocean side of Amelia Island, just north of the Amelia Island Plantation complex. The American Beach community was started by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, president of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company based in Jacksonville in 1935. Since this was the time of segregation, blacks were not allowed to use the other beaches in the area. Mr. Lewis bought the property to serve as a gathering place for blacks in the Jacksonville area. Mr. Lewis sold property in the community so employees could build vacation homes in the area. Hurricane Dora in 1964 hit Amelia Island hard and many of the homes and other structures in the community were destroyed. With the passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1963 and creation of integrated beaches, the draw of American Beach lessened to some degree, although it remains a historical area with existing and newly constructed homes, a newly built community center (that is eventually to house a small museum highlighting the history of the community), and a county oceanfront park with picnic pavillions and a bathhouse with showers and changing rooms. One can drive on the beach through the access located at the end of Lewis Street with four-wheel drive vehicles recommended since the sand can be soft. A famous resident of American Beach was MaVynee Betsch, also know as the Beach Lady, and great grand-daughter of Mr. Lewis. She became a champion of American Beach and the sand dunes are thus named.
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