Paul Kroegel was born in Chemnitz, Germany, and arrived in Sebastian, Florida in 1881. Kroegel built a homestead on the west bank of the Indian River that included a large pre-historic shell mound, or "midden," known as Barker's Bluff. Kroegel became fascinated with the abundant bird population across the Lagoon that has since been designated as the Pelican Island National Wildlife refuge. Kroegel worked at discouraging poachers from the area, and his efforts were an integral part of the establishment of the Refuge by then President Teddy Roosevelt. His efforts were rewarded by his appointment as the first refuge manager. Paul Kroegel was also instrumental in the routing of the first railroad through Indian River County through his collaboration with Henry Flagler.
The Kroegel Homestead Conservation Area includes a portion of the original homestead that was given to, and farmed by, Kroegel's son Rodney. The purpose of the project is to preserve and open to the public a portion of the Homestead, which is of State and National significance in "completing the story" of the natural and cultural heritage of the federal refuge system, and of the Nationally significant Indian River Lagoon. In addition, public acquisition will direct potential multi-family development away from a special flood hazard area, and will also protect remnant coastal hammock areas.
Public access improvements will be designed so as not to disturb the natural and cultural integrity of resources on the property. A defined walking path will be established, including signs and displays explaining the cultural and natural features of the site. The site is not currently open to the public. The Indian River Historical Society plans to eventually include the site as part of their historic tours of the County. Long-term plans include restoring the buildings on-site as part of the educational tour that will be established for the property. Please refer to our website home page for the map showing the location of this Preserve.