Sunday, March 15, 2009
We moved to south of Naples, in part to be closer to the Everglades. This vast area of unique environment is less than half of its original size. It has been decimated by the land barons and government agencies that either failed to realize it’s important to the ecosystem or just were overcome by greed. Based on recent actions of folks in leadership positions, you can make your own judgments. About 30 years ago, it was realized that the Everglades were essential to the survival of South Florida and finally action was taken to preserve what was left. The Everglades remain on life support today, but is holding steady. It is truly a special environment that should be seen firsthand.
We visited Everglades City and the town of Chockoloskee. These were among the first white settlements in the Everglades. In Chockoloskee, you can visit the first store that traded with the Seminole Indians. Tom Smallwood made a name for himself in this area conducting fair trade with the natives. Today it is part store and part museum to the local history. Here you can get the flavor of how it was here in the early years of white settlement. You read how the local citizens settled their own law enforcement concerns. It was found that a Mr. Watson, a successful cane farmer, was killing his local workers on pay day instead of paying them, so the locals called a meeting with him and promptly killed him.
The drive along highway 41 between Naples and Miami can be called Alligator alley and literally hundreds of the creatures can be seen in the waterways alongside the road. We also stopped at the Big Cypress Bend boardwalk to enjoy the walk among the Cypress Trees and see the local wildlife. Of course the visit would not be complete without a few alligators.