Wednesday, November 12, 2008
It's a jungle out there
We decided to make one last tourist trip before leaving central Florida for the Miami area. Highlands Hammock State Park is one of the oldest of the state parks, with the aim of preserving as much of the historic natural environment as possible. Here you can walk numerous trails that allow you to view native land forms from swamp to woodland. The oldest tree in the park is over 1000 years old. Before it became a state park, it had been settled by a number of farming families. One of the first was a farmer who cleared a large section of the swamp and woods to start and orange grove. All evidence of his efforts have been lost accept for many wild orange trees that can be seen as you hike the trails.
During the great depression, the park was home to a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp that made significant improvements to the park and surrounding areas. There are still two CCC build buildings in the park and one of them contains a museum dedicated to the local CCC history. While many people are aware of the contributions that the CCC made to this country, I wonder how many are also aware of the risks involved in this work. I learned here that 228 CCC members lost their lives at three camps in the Florida Keys in a 1935 hurricane. Many of these men were WWI veterans.
It is a great park for hiking and biking and learning a few things.