Historically, the story of the Town of Everglades began more than a
thousand years ago in the little-known civilization of the coastal
mound dwellers. These people left behind the huge shell mounds
marking the sites of their settlements& Their strange ornaments of
gold and shell, their wood paintings and other cultural relics are
similar in some respects to those of the Aztec civilization of Mexico.
They built ingenious fish traps and fashioned pottery which they
decorated with abstract figures.
The mound dwellers were succeeded by the crafty and savage Caloosas,
a tribe that successfully beat off the landing parties of Ponce de
Leon on Marco Island and Massacred the Spaniards attempting to estab-
lish a colony under Menendea.
It was not until the Seminoles had displaced the Caloosas and had
been in turn decimated by the bloody wars of the nineteenth century
that the first group of hardy Anglo-Saxons established in 1873 an
Indian trading post at the mouth of the stream now known as BBrron
The name "Everglades" was used for the settlement by its residents
as early as 1880. Farmers, who shipped large quantities of tomatoes
from the port, needed a trade name for their produce. They selected
"Everglades'" which became the name of the community and, later, of
The founder of Everglades, if this title may be conferred, was W. S.
Allen, who built the first home on the south' bank of Barren River
(then known as Allen's River) and used the spot as a shipping point
for the sugar cane and vegetables produced nearby on his plantation.
In 1882, the late Capt. R. B. Storter, his father, and his brother,
George W. Storter, arrived at the settlement aboard Allenhs schooner,
lured by the fabulous crops of su"ar cane. being produced. (Capt.
Storter said later that the reports of the production were all true'
"You planted cane every 20 years and cut it every year").
The Storters farmed on rented land for two years, growing cane and
vegetables.. Later, Capt. Storter built his own home further down
toward the river mouth and George Storter bought the Allen house.
Over the years since, both houses have been improved, enlarged and
remodeled, but the original foundations are still there. The present
Rod & Gun Club, converted many years ago from the Allen residence,
stands on a foundation six feet high because, shortly after the 1873
hurricane, Allen vowed to raise his house "higher than water ever
was or ever would be",
More settlers came in and'the town became a moderately busy port
dealing in vgStables, sugar cane. egret plumes and the htdes of deer
and alligators. Before his death in 1947, Capt. Storter told of the
Indian and white traders who came in from the Big Cypress country with
their plumes and hides. They did not barter, insisting on payment
in silver coin which they immediately spent at the general store.
The plume trade grew enormously and continued on al illegal and
bootleg business long after the ruthless slaughter of egrets during
the breeding season had been made unlawful.
Meanwhile, commercial fishing was becoming more and more important.
The Island community of Chokoloskee, just south of Everglades, grew
with that industry.
Capt. Storter became the community's leading citizen, operating the
general store and running his schooner between Tampa and Key West.
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The Captain recalled that those years around the turn-of the century
were "good ones". "There was a full and free life, with plenty of
everything", he said.
However, as other farm areas, made more accessible by rail and high-
01ec" ways, came into production, Everglades began to slip behind. The
settlement's two great handicaps: remoteness and a marshy location.
became more and more deterrent in effect. Only water transportation
slow and uncertain was possible with any degree of satisfaction and
the site, with only two strips of land some 200 feet wide above
water at high tide, made growth impossible.
These disadvantages kept the town almost static until 1923 when the
late Barron Collier chose it as his base of operations. It was Mr.
Collier who put Everglades on the map as the seat of a new county -
a thriving and modern little city&
The basic job was to establish dry land and for this purpose the
largest dredges then in existence were utilized; more than 2,000,000
cubic yards of fill were pumped in from the bay and the river. This
enormous task was begun in 1924 and by 1929 the marsh had been
reclaimed, the present town laid out and landscaped.
Concurrently, Barren Collier attacked the transportation problem.
For several years the state and individual counties:had been striving
unsuccessfully to complete the great South Florida highway, the
Tamiami Trail. In 1923 Collier County was established by the Florida
Legislature out of lands separated from Lee County. In the same
year, Everglades was incorporated as the seat of the new county.
Barron Collier then threw the full weight of his finasciMl power and
organizational genius into completing the Trail, He brought to
Everglades D. Graham Copeland, an able engineer and executive, who
first pushed through the construction of the Trail and who later
remained at Everglades as General Manager for the Collier interests.
The recent growth and development of Everglades and the county has
been due in great measure to Mr. Copeland's efficient and able admin
istration. He retired from active work in 1947 but was elected by
the voters of the county to represent them in the 1949 Legislature.
Meanwhile, Barron Collier established a new bus line, a motor freigh-
line, a telephone and telegraph company and arranged for the exten-
sion into Everglades of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
With good roads providing access, with rail service and good communi-
cations, commercial fishing expanded, enormously. In 1947, 3,500,00
pounds of edible fish were shipped from the commercial fish houses
By 1949, under the administration.of Barren Collier's sons, Barron
Sam and Miles, a new airport was added, to the transportation
facilities. The Airport is the southernmost on the west Florida
coast mainland and is now still in constant use. The Everglades
Airport has twice been the headquarters for air-soarches for persons
missing in the Ten Thousand Islands.
Designed as a "Town within a Park", Everglades has a charm that has-
made it famous. The town was "discovered" during the twenties by
Courtney Riley Cooper, whose stories about the fabulous tarpon and
snook fishing brought in the vanguard of sports fishing thousands
who make their headquarters at the Rod and Gun Club. At present, a
guide boat floct of 30 sports fishing cruisers, one of the largest
based at any single point in Florida, operates out of Everglades.
-Five American presidents and scores of other notables have chosen it
as on "off the beaten track" vacation spot. Gen..Dwicrht D, Eisenhower
who came to the Rod and Gun Club to rest after his European Crusade
said: "It's the sort of place that.heals nerves. I wish I could
stay six months"
With a population of some 400, Everglades is on the threshold of
new growth. A new high school and elementary school have been
built, and the State has completed a how road from Everglades to
Chokoloskec. This road, sure to be one of the scenic drives of
h Florida, gives the colorful island community of Chokoloskee its
t.' u/ first road link with the mainland.
? 7 The climax of events forecasting the future growth of Everglades
came when the town was selected as the site for the Everglades
Lr jEi-National Park dedication ceremonies in Decomber 1947. Thousands
came to heoa President Truman and Secretary Krug officially dedicate
J -~ the nation's newest park from its western water gateway.
(AA ] Visitors find a complete little city with a movie theater, bank,
,F _- hospital, community recreation cantor and a department store unique
in any South Florida town.
A t But while the new Everglades is as modern and convenient as one
S_, > might wish, there are always reminders of its recent and colorful
past reminders that this is an outpost of the last and almost
M vanished frontier. Seminole Indians in their traditional colorful
dress, are seen almost daily on the streets; alligators still
rYXL4k Coccasionally crawl within the town limits; great flocks of water-
fowl darken the sunset.
-" -, Everglades, the western water gateway to the Everglades National
f ,',' Park and surrounded on three sides by the National Park, is a
0 charming combination of the old and the new, a community with
great appeal to everyone, especially those who love the wilderness
and its creatures.
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