"THE BORDERLAND OF THE TROPICS"
Spring 720-Summer 810-Autumn 75-Winter 640-Annual 730
I Average Clear Days 279-Annual Death Rate, one-third of 1%
"No other name hath fairer fame,
Nor fame a name like Lee."
S PUBLISHED BY THE
noarb of Count? Commissioners, fort Myers.,-loria
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA.
Fort Myers, Nov. 3rd., 1915.
This booklet was prepared for the Board of County
Commissioners by Mr. Albert H. Roberts, Secretary of the
Board of Trade of Fort Myers, and is published officially
as a fair and accurate description, both as to text and
illustrations, of the attractions, advantages and resources
of Lee County.
All photographs from which the outs in this booklet
were made were actually taken in this county. Where
practicable, official statistics have been used with refer-
ence to yeild of crops, school attendance, etc., and where
official figures were not available, careful estimates were
used, based upon the mopt reliable 'information which could
Liberal use has been made of the latest report issued
by the State Department of Agriculture (1911--12) both as
to crop statistics and for comment upon soil conditions,
and the cultivation of leading crops of this section.
United States Weather Bureau reports have been utilized
in the securing of climatological data.
Copy of booklet was submitted to the Department of
Agriculture, Tallahassee, Florida, before being placed
in the hands of the printer, and by permission reference
is made to the Department for verification of the state-
ments contained in same.
All parties interested in Lee County, or any section
thereof, as tourists, investors, or homeseekers, are in-
vited to address the Board of County Commissioners, or the
Board of Trade# Fort Myers, Florida.
Adopted in open session of the Board, Nov. 5rd., 1913.
A^s: QChairman of the Board of
County Commissioners of
Atteet:- Lee County, Florida.
Clerk of the Circuit Court
and eX-offiolo Clerk of the
Board of County Commissioners.,
el, t P-1 I
0 0 4 d i A
I ijoi tlill-
'0 1 U u k [!
0 F I I O RID
"T, o I'lif
L EE COUNTY, FLORIDA (area 4,031 square miles; population,
1900, 3,031; 1910, 6,294; 1913, estimated, 10,000), is the largest
in area in the State, and the southernmost, lying wholly on the Gulf
mainland. The county seat is Fort Myers (population: 1910, 2,643;
1913, estimated, 4,500), the southern terminus of the Atlantic Coast
Line Railroad, since the extension of that system into Lee County in
1904. To the resident population of the county 10,000 or 12,000
tourists should be added during the winter season. Another railroad,
the Charlotte Harbor & Northern, has its terminus and also its main
offices in Lee county at Boca Grande, which has twenty-one feet of
water at the bar and sixty-five feet in the harbor, and through which
port 295,167 tons of phosphate rock were shipped in 1912. A local
railroad, twelve miles in length, is under construction from Deep lake to
Four-Year-Old GraperLilt I ree
Ch. k. l.- kc bay, to move the citrus crop and tap the cypress timber in
the southern end of the county.
With one exception, every ..st..fcc in the county ..is served by
water transportation, and the county seat is connected directly by
steamer lines, for which Fort Myers is headquarters, plying to Tampa
(145 miles), Key West (140 miles, with connections for Havana, Cuba,
90 miles fai-ther) and Fort Lauderdale (185 miles). By rail, Fort
Myers is 323 miles and Boca Grande is 313 miles r -u.ili of Jacksonville.
The distance between Fort Myers and Tampa is the same by rail and
water. Besides the freight and passenger boats, hundreds of pleasure
yachts ply the rivers and bays of Lee county annually.
Of especial interest to the tourist is the trip across the State's first
inland waterway from Punta Rassa to Fort Lauderdale, which the
Truck Farm, Pine Island
State of Florida has requested the United States government to take
over and improve permanently. This trip carries the visitor over the
most tropical river in Florida, the winding Caloosahatchee ("Beautiful
River"), with its resplendent scenery; across Lake Okeechobee, the
largest body of fresh water in the United States south of the Great
Lakes and through the drainage canals which are being constructed by
the State in its work of reclaiming the Florida Everglades. Besides its
scenic beauty, the route is one of great commercial value, the Caloosa-
hatchee being the natural and only western branch of any inland water-
way across South Florida, and the southwestern terminus as well of
the inland waterway down the Atlantic coast from New England to
Florida and across to the Gulf of Mexico; affording safe passage also,
Orange River Grove
Captiva Island Beach
when properly deepened, to smaller boats desiring to avoid the stormy
passage around Cape Sable. The Caloosahatchee already has ten feet
of water as far as Fort Myers, and the board of engineers for rivers
and harbors has recommended an appropriation of $25,000.00 for
deepening and straightening the channel as far as Fort Thompson. The
drainage canals connecting Lake Okeechobee (depth 19 feet) with the
Atlantic ocean are cut to a depth of 10 feet.
Lee county was created by act of the legislature of 1887 out of the
northern end of Monroe county. While a part of the parent county,
it had been the scene of most of the battles in the second Seminole
Indian war. Fort Myers was originally established in the first Seminole
war as Fort Harvie (November 4, 1841), being abandoned soon after-
wards (March 21, 1842) and was re-established eight years later
.. ; _, -. .? a t. '. .,.-_. . ",- .' -3
(February 14, 1850), under its present name, in honor of Colonel A.
C. Myers, U. S. A. Fort Myers was the scene of some fighting during
the war between the States, but its principal war record was in the
Seminole conflicts. A remnant of the tribe still lives in the extreme
southeastern portion of the county, occasionally a few coming into the
towns on peaceable errands; and the county still numbers amongst its
most honored citizens some of the men who in the fifties helped rescue
from the savage the future empire.
Until the railroad was built into Lee county in 1904, Fort Myers
was little more than an Indian trading post and headquarters for a few
cattlemen, but since then the progress of the city and county as well
has been rapid and substantial. A fair idea may be obtained as to the
Cocoanut Grove, Wulfert
relative population of the various communities from the following table,
showing the number of registered voters and of children attending the
public schools in the various portions of the county:
SCHOOL ENROLLMENT.-North Olga, 11; New Prospect, 17; Sam-
ville, 21; Alva, 92; Fort Denaud, 26; Turners, 54; River Heights, 16;
Estero, 22; Captiva, 9; Pineland, 9; Bokeelia, 10; Sanibel, 28; Ever-
glade, 14; Chokoloske, 9; Fakahatchee, 13; Marco, 39; Naples, 12;
Henderson Creek, 12; Caxambas, 25; Wulfert, 6; Boca Grande, 72;
Cayacosta, 15; Buckingham, 66; Idalia, 15; Fort Myers (white), 440;
Fort Myers (colored), 126; East Fort Myers (Edgewood), 116 ; Deans,
26; LaBelle, 70; Bonita Springs, 27; St. James City, 12; Immokalee, 14.
Total, 1.4 1A.
REGISTRATION.-Upcohall, 33; New Prospect, 56; Alva, 110; Fort
Denaud. 70; Estero, 51; Captiva, 11; Pineland, 19; Sanibel, 34; Ever-
glade, 19; Marco, 58; Wulfert, 13; Boca Grande, 65; lona, 24; Caya-
costa, 14; Buckingham, 54; Fort Myers (white), 737; LaBelle, 63;
Bonita Springs, 22; St. James City, 19; Immokalee, 19. Total, 1,491.
The school enrollment (for the term 1912-13) showed an increase
of fifteen per cent. over the preceding year. The Fort Myers school,
the Andrew D. Gwynne Institute, named in honor of a late distinguished
and philanthropic citizen, is an accredited high school, with full twelve
years' course; the Alva school is a junior high school, with ten years'
course; LaBelle, Buckingham, East Fort Myers and Boca Grande
schools are eight-year grammar schools. The colored school at Fort
Myers, the only one in the county, is also a grammar school, the negro
Largest Grapefruit Grove in the World (465 Acres), Alva
population being very small in numbers, both in and out of Fort Myers.
As evidence that the people of Lee county are thoroughly inter-
ested in their splendid school system, it may be noted that not only
does the county levy the maximum school tax permitted by law, seven
mills on the dollar on all taxable property, but there are twelve sub-
districts, in which the people have voluntarily taxed themselves an
additional three mills, which is the limit for the sub-district taxes for
current expenses. Under a new constitutional provision, sub-districts
are permitted to issue bonds for erecting school buildings, and Fort
Myers has just bonded by a vote of eighty to seven in the sum of
$35,000.00 for a separate high school building, and LaBelle, having
bonded for lII,n,1.1111.. and concluded that amount insufficient for a
creditable school, has called an election for an additional $10,000.00,
Seedling Orange Grove, New Prospect (Samville Postoffice)
the first bond issue carrying by a vote of fifteen to two. Other elec-
tions are contemplated.
In considering the number of registered voters in the county and
in the different precincts, it should be borne in mind that the registra-
tion books have not been opened since the autumn of 1912, when none
could register who had not resided in the county six months and the
State one year. There are perhaps several hundred more who would
be entitled to register at this time.
All counties in Florida are divided into five districts, each repre-
sented by a member of the board of county commissioners, who have
a general supervision over county affairs, excepting public schools,
which are controlled by a county board of public instruction, chosen
Sisal Hemp F' ctory, St. James City
.-.-*i" H W-\? e H "
A., YM L, A.
Orange Grove at Fort Denaud
from three districts. For the current year the board of county com-
missioners has made the following tax levy, including the millage
required by-the State, which is uniform in all counties:
Fund. .'.' (Approximate.)
State purposes .................................. 7V $25,313.00
Roads and Bridges.................... ........... 8 27,000.00
Public Schools ............. ............... .. 7 23,625.00
Fine and Forfeiture............................ 1 3,375.00
General Revenue ....... ...... .. ........... 5 15,875.00
Outstanding Indebtedness .... ............... 4 13,500.00
Publicity Tax ............................. 2 1,688.00
Total from direct levy ...................... 33 $111,376.00
In addition, all county license taxes will go into the general fund.
The difference between the school fund and the fine and forfeiture
fund needs no cofiment.
Clam Cannery, Caxambas
The progress of the county during the past ten years is shown by
the assessed valuation of property at the beginning of each year, as
Increase over preceding year, $349,087=11j'%.
Increase in ten years, $1,525,961-=82/2%.
*Telegraph only. No railroads January 1, 1904.
Terry Monument and McGregor Boulevard
It will be seen from the above table that property values fluctuated
considerably between 1904 and 1909, but for the last three years, from
January 1, 1910, to January 1, 1913, they have increased more than
seventy-five per cent. The basis of assessments in this county is
twenty-five per cent. of the ordinary market value, which would
indicate an actual value of all assessable property in the county of
$13,500,000.00, which does not include any improvements begun or
completed since January 1, 1913.
It is a fact worthy of note that for two years past the board of
county commissioners, sitting as a board of equalization, has accepted
without alteration the valuations placed on property by the county tax
assessor; also that the delinquent tax sale this year was for less than
one per cent. of the total taxes, and not one foot of land reverted to
the State, all being taken by local investors. This is a record seldom
equaled and perhaps never excelled by any county in the United States.
For the year 1913 the general road and bridge tax will amount to
$27,000.00 approximately, and the special levy for "outstanding indebt-
edness" was necessitated principally by the county's portion of the ex-
pense of the McGregor boulevard. This is an eighteen-mile driveway,
built of shell, oiled and rolled, now under course of construction from
Fort Myers to Punta Rassa, the joint work of the county, the city of
Fort Myers, and the estate of Mrs. T. McGregor Terry, a philanthropic
lady whose generosity made the splendid boulevard possible, and whose
death last year, before the splendid work which she inspired was well
under way, was deeply regretted by the people of Lee county. A hand-
Gun Club, Fort Myers
some monument to her memory stands near the beginning of the boule-
vard, erected by her husband, Dr. Marshall Orlando Terry, and by him
presented to the people of Fort Myers.
In the city of Fort Myers the tax rate, based upon the separate
municipal valuation, is eight mills on the dollar, of which three mills
: are to provide interest and sinking fund for the city's bonded indebted-
ness of $120,000.00 for waterworks, sewerage, street paving and other
municipal improvements. At an election last March $60,000.00 of this
amount was voted. The county has no bonded indebtedness of any sort.
Municipal governments have recently been organized, under the com-
mission form, in LaBelle and St. James City, Fort Myers being the
first municipal corporation in the county. These towns, as well as Boca
Grande and Fort Thompson, which are not incorporated, are well served
with electric lights and other conveniences common to places of like
Lee County Schools
Perhaps ninety-nine per cent. of tourists and homeseekers who come
to Florida are induced to do so because of its incomparable climate.
Climate is the one, friend or foe which stays by twenty-four hours out
of the day and three hundred and sixty-five days out of the year, and
the prudent man will certainly consider most carefully climatic condi-
tions in the locality which he purposes to make his home. During the
present year, 1913, the highest temperature recorded in Fort Myers was
ninety-three degrees and the lowest forty-six degrees Fahrenheit.
Within reasonable limitations, these figures might be accepted as apply-
ing almost anywhere in the county, varying one way or the other by
reason of water protection and other local conditions. Fort Myers not
only stands in the very front rank of the Florida cities which are
warmest in winter, but in the front rank as well of those which are
coolest in summer. As a general thing the temperature this past sum-
mer averaged from ten degrees to twenty degrees lower than in the
most heated portions of the North, and while the disastrous drought was
destroying crops in the West, Lee county was enjoying refreshing
showers, the rainfall being below the normal, but sufficient to cool the
atmosphere from time to time and give life to all forms of vegetation,
nor was there any damage from overflows. Lands in Florida being
generally flat and more so in Lee county than in some of the northern
portions of the State, the question of drainage is one which must receive
proper consideration, and where the natural fall is not sufficient to carry
off the rainfall promptly and rapidly, artificial drainage must be re-
sorted to. At the worst, it would be absolutely impossible for 'such
floods as devastated certain portions of the northwest this past spring,
to occur in Lee county, with the terrible destruction of life and property,
but crops may be killed through lack of proper drainage, and lands
should not be put into cultivation until they are susceptible to reason-
able drainage methods. In many cases, the cost will be insignificant,
and where it is most expensive, the need is greatest.
Comparative figures based upon United States weather bureau re-
ports for fifteen years show the following conditions with respect to
the places named:
Southern Italy 47.30 57.3 73.7 61.9 60.0 85.0' 20.00 220
California 52.0 60.0 70.0 65.0 62.0 109.0 28.0 250
California 48.0 60.0 75.0 61.0 61.0 100.0 29.0 238
Florida .... 64.0 72.0 81.0 75.0 73.0 88.0 54.0 279
The following table, taken from United States weather bureau re-
ports for the year 1912, shows a monthly comparison between the
climatological conditions throughout Florida generally and Fort Myers.
Lee County Churches
The elevation of Fort Myers is twelve feet, and the local weather
records have been kept for forty-one years:
Max. Temp. Min. Temp. Mean Temp.
(Degrees) (Degrees) (Degrees)
State. City. State. City. State. City.
State. City. State. City.
January ..... . ... 87
February ........ 90
March .. .. ... 92
A pril ............ 96
M ay ............100
June ...... ...... .103
July ...... ...... 104
August .......... 100
September ....... 103
October .......... 95
November ....... 92
December ........ 86
Winter Home of Thomas A. Edison, Fort Myers
The total rainfall for the year in Fort Myers was 74.65 inches, or
22.46 inches more than normal, the heaviest precipitation being in June,
which was 17.88 inches above normal, while the State's annual average
was 11.61 inches above normal. No other climatic conditions referred
to in the above table were departures from normal of a degree warrant-
ing special mention.
During the months of June, July, August, September and the first
half of October, of the rainy season, this year, there have been 34.06
inches rainfall in Fort Myers as against 54.34 inches for the same
months in 1912.
The representative of the State board of health estimates that the
annual death rate of Lee county from all causes does not exceed one-
third of one per cent. of the total population. Only one firm in the
county carries on an undertaking business, and that is a side-line. Only
one case of pneumonia is recorded in the last thirteen or fourteen years
by local physicians.
Heretofore Lee county has not ranked high in manufactures, several
cigar factories in Fort Myers, two clam canneries on Marco island, and
a few small canneries for fruits and vegetables being about all in that
line. Several turpentine stills have done a good business, and sawmills
.M .. .,
Tarpon Fishing Party
as well throughout the county. Recently, however, a new industry has
been opened at St. James City, on Pine island, for the manufacture of
sisal hemp rope, and for growing the sisal plant. At present a large
amount of hemp is imported from the Bahamas, the domestic crop not
having reached its maturity. These industries, together with the pick-
ing, packing and shipping of citrus fruits, and other industries which
will be touched uponout water, give employment to many hundreds of men
and women. A competent mechanic is reasonably sure of employment
in the county, if he wishes to make it his permanent home, though we
are unable to advise anyone to come to a strange place on the mere
chance of getting work. He should have a position definitely reserved
for him, or should be possessed of sufficient capital to live on and get
started in business before coming.
Pine Land Sugar Cane, Overhead Irrigation
Fisheries form an important industry in Lee county. In addition
to the mullet and other fish taken in the salt waters, three thousand
tons of catfish from Lake Okeechobee, valued at $600,000.00, were
shipped through Fort Myers last year.
While the rapid development of the county has stripped the cattle
industry of its former distinction as being the leader in Lee county, it
is still one of importance. The county tax assessor estimates that there
are at the present time thirty thousand cattle on the ranges in the south-
ern and eastern portions of the county, valued at $360,000.00.
First and foremost of the industries of Lee county is that of citrus
fruits. During the season 1912-13, as nearly as can be estimated from
the most reliable data, approximately one hundred and eighteen thou-
sand boxes of oranges and two hundred and thirty-seven thousand
boxes of grapefruit were shipped from the county. The average value
River Bottom Sugar Cane, Rialto
Country Road, La Belle to Immokalee
of the oranges was about $1.84 per box and of the grapefruit about
$1.80 per box, f. o. b. These prices were realized in spite of -heavy
losses through defective transportation conditions which have since
been remedied. In New York and other Eastern markets Lee county
fruit led the market steadily, reaching as high as $7.00 per box for
oranges and $5.00 per box for grapefruit. This county received the
first prize for citrus fruits at the Florida State Mid-Winter Fairs held
some years ago in Tampa. By reason of its very southern location, below
the twenty-seventh parallel, where a killing frost is practically unknown,
outside of localities which, for some reason, may be peculiarly exposed
to cold, Lee county is enabled to market its fruit and vegetable crops
in advance of less favored sections, when the market prices are the best.
Tomato Field, Sanibel Island
Charlotte Harbor and Northern Terminals, Boca Grande
Lands suitable for citrus fruit growing, farming or market garden-
ing can be obtained in Lee county from $25.00 to $100.00 per acre,
according to the quality of the soil and location, and it will cost as much
probably to clear and drain the land for cultivation. It would generally
be less than that in case of prairie lands, which require little or no clear-
ing, but more drainage frequently than other lands, where capable of
local drainage, and the maximum expense would be reached in the
draining and clearing of the heavy hammocks. Investors should con-
sider carefully the fertility of the lands they propose to buy, the cost
of clearing and draining, and its accessibility to transportation. There
Shell Mound, Pineland
Public Library, Alva
should be, whenever possible, a personal inspection before a purchase
is made, or at any rate an investigation by a disinterested third party.
With proper care there is no need for anyone to make a poor invest-
ment in Lee county, and a steadily increasing prosperity has shown
that most of the investors have used good judgment and followed it
up with intelligent endeavor, but no land can be so good, and no
climate so desirable, but some man may use poor judgment, especially
if he does not know what he is buying. There are too many oppor-
tunities for good investment for any man to waste his hard-earned
money in the other kind.
The following figures, from the report of the State commissioner
of agriculture, show the relative values of the more important products
of Florida and Lee county for the year ending June 30, 1912:
Caloosahatchee River, Fort Thompson
Hunting Scene in the Interior
No. Bearing Non-Bearing
ORANGES- Trees. Trees. Crates. Value.
State .............. 2,776,526 1,836,016 4,769,312 $5,665,415
Lee County ......... 30,300 84,000 65,700 61,700
State ............... 9,196 34,079 11,810 32,763
Lee County ........ 889 452 2,055 3,020
State ............... 794,408 739,923 1,405,308 2,684,525
Lee County ........ 126,500 65,650 318,700 319,500
LIMES- No of Trees. Crates. Value.
State .................. . ...... 37,572 35,417 $61,770
Lee County ............. .......... 1,958 4,713 7,755
Avocado Pear Grove, Chokoloske
Fishing Scene on the Caloosahatchee
MANGOES- No. of Trees. Crates. Value.
State ............ ................ 82,095 26,559 $26,646
Lee County ...................... 1,463 4,910 5,310
State ........... ...... ...... ... ... 56,172 49,281
Lee County ............. ....... .... 5,945 5,395
State .............. ........ ...... 355,658 383,185
Lee County ............ .......... ...... 11,080 16,430
"Deep Lake", in the Big Cypress
Lee County Tourist Hotels
CORN- Acres. Bushels. Value. per Acre.
State ................ 460,686 5,453,936 $4,455,161 $ 9.67
Lee County .......... 124 2,590 2,590 20.89
State ................ 23,514 287,708 232,250 9.88
Lee County .......... 47 725 650 13.83
State ................. 24,747 2,953,581 2,398,257 96.99
Lee County .......... 128 34,300 34,300 267.97
State ............... 557 14,737 22,609 40.59
Lee County .......... 22 1,528 3,850 175.00
State ................ 9,475 *67,846 920,693 97.06
Lee County .......... 97 975 18,485 190.57
State ................ 8,165 76,885 149,456 18.30
Lee County .......... 121 2,300 8,225 67.98
FIELD PEA HAY-
State ................ 9,754 (1) 9,849 180,894 18.55
Lee County .......... 5 5 125 25.00
NATIVE GRASS HAY-
State ................ 29,732 (1) 46,650 516,351 17.40
Lee County .......... 16 15 300 18.75
State ................ 96,695 1,534,736 1,630,275 16.86
Lee County .......... 5 155 568 113.60
Barrels of syrup. (1) Tons.
VELVET BEANS- Acres. Bushels. Value. per Acre.
State ................ 28,314 320,930 598,815 $21.15
Lee County .......... 16 295 550 34.38
State ................ 624 65,162 102,067 163.55
Lee County .......... 32 3,280 7,355 229.85
State ................ 2,598 (2) 625,012 818,307 314.98
Lee County .......... 9 2,000 1,800 200.00
State ................ 1,062 (2) "....'I 288,663 271.81
Lee County .......... 83 .,.i,, 30,350 365.66
State ................ 10,647 1,080,215 1,640,882 154.12
Lee County .......... 24 615 4,075 169.79
State ................ 2,307 (2) 193,729 295,279 127.99
Lee County .......... 50 3,000 7,045 140.90
State ................ 13,213 (2) 1,752,194 2,112,829 159.91
Lee County .......... 237 62,900 67,400 284.39
State ................ 547 (2) 98,403 133,183 243.29
Lee County .......... 66 26.200 37,250 564.39
State ................ 438 (2) 39,558 39,981 91.28
Lee County .......... 1 200 1,350 1,350.00
State ................ 15,724 (3) 6,895 511,417 32.52
Lee County .......... 108 85 10,175 94.21
(2) Crates. (3) Carloads.
Caloosahatchee River Steamers
I " f2, ^ ~ ~ ~ ~ -
a a ;. .n.
Lee County ..........
Lee County ..........
Lee County ...... ...
State ............. . .
Lee County ..........
Lee County ..........
Barrels of syrup.
4,444 (2) 280,511
Largest Citrus Fruit Packing House in the World, Fort Myers
It would have been possible to have given specific cases where
much larger returns were received from various crops than the aver-
age for the county, but it was deemed best to use only the official
figures, where practicable, in order not to mislead anyone into believing
that exceptional cases were the general rule.
With regard to the culture of oranges and grapefruit, the principal
citrus fruits raised in this county at the present time, it may be said
that it usually requires from four to six years for a grove to come into
bearing to an extent that will pay the expenses of maintenance; after
that the profits come. Properly conducted, a citrus fruit grove is a
splendid investment, though one requiring time and money. It is
possible, however, for the small grower to raise vegetables or farm
products and thus supplement his income while his grove is coming
Sugar cane appears without doubt to be the crop best adapted to all
parts of Lee county where cultivation has extended, or where it may
reasonably be expected to extend in the near future. The rainy season
comes at the time when the cane needs the greatest amount of water,
and when it is too high to be hurt by any ordinary rainfall for that
period of the year. Proper drainage is necessary to secure the best
results in the raising of sugar cane as the soil should be moist, but
not wet. A crop will spring up year after year from one planting, and
is excellent for forage as well as for a f..-.dtuflf.' The average value
of syrup produced per acre in Lee county is nearly double that of the
State as a whole, and when the production of cane is sufficient to
Fish Boats From Lake Okeechobee
supply the demand for syrup, it is reasonable to suppose that the re-
fining of sugar will become an established industry, sugar being the
only agricultural product which the United States import, and some
of the lands in south Florida being pronounced by those best qualified
as the best cane lands in the world; this applying more particularly to
muck lands, such as are found in the Everglades, and in the southern
portion of Lee county. Sugar cane reaches its full maturity only
south of the twenty-seventh parallel, where frost is practically un-
known. As shown by the foregoing table, the average value per acre
of the cane crop in this county made into syrup is $190.57, almost
double the State's general average of $97.06.
First in the value of all Florida field crops is cotton, which, how-
ever, is not cultivated in any county lying south of the twenty-ninth
Blooded Stock, Fort Thompson (La Belle Post Office)
parallel, though experiments on a very small scale at Alva show that
it can be grown in Lee county. The second crop is corn, and while
this, at the present time, is of little consequence in Lee county, the
average value per acre is :' -9 as against $9.67 per acre for the en-
The third field crop of Florida is the sweet potato, which averaged
for the State $96.99 per acre, and for Lee county $267.97. This is
distinctively a maintenance crop, being consumed for the most part at
home, hence is subject to little fluctuation in the market; and it is the
crop of all crops which may be depended upon with the greatest degree
of certainty. Fo'Urth in importance is the tomato crop,, which averaged
$159.91 for the State, and $284.39 for the county. The county, which
Cattle on Range, Allen Prairie
produced the largest acreage of tomatoes of any in Florida realized
$184.41 per acre. After the first expense of clearing the lands, all of
these crops are inexpensive to cultivate, and are very lucrative. Some
of the other crops, notably the one acre of eggplants marketed from
Lee county in 1911-12 are still more remunerative, but there is not the
steady and constant demand for all of them that there is for the ones
mentioned specially herein, and it is not the intention to lay stress upon
exceptional cases. The exceptional man will find the exceptional
It would be useless to discuss what portions of the county are best
adapted to different products. The majority of the citrus fruit is
grown in the Alva commissioner's district, the smallest on the main-
Mango Grove, Marco Island
Atlantic Coast Line Terminals, Fort Myers
land, which includes many groves along the Caloosahatchee and
Orange rivers, but all along the river are splendid groves, as well as
on the islands, along the coast and even in the interior, entirely
removed from water transportation or water protection. Sanibel
island is the center of the tomato industry and grows other vegetables
in a most satisfactory manner, and the lands in the Caloosahatchee
valley and along the coast are also excellently adapted for farm and
garden produce, as is being demonstrated all the time. The best sugar
cane land lies in and around Chokoloske bay, though it grows splen-
didly in the river bottom and equally well on pine land. Avocadoes,
mangoes and cocoanuts, all of which will be found in Fort Myers and
other towns in Lee county, do best on Marco island and elsewhere
in the more southern portions of the county, the cocoanut being suscep-
tible to the slightest cold, and the growth it attains even in the most
northern portions of the county is a living and unanswerable proof of
the general mildness of the climate. Iona is the center of a leading
vegetable producing section.
As to the character of the lands in and adjacent to Lee county, a
large portion of south Florida is covered by what is known as the
south Florida pinelands. The prevailing timber growth in the south-
ern portions is the Cuban pine. This large area presents considerable
diversity, the prevailing soils being sandy loams, frequently underlaid
with clayey limestone or shell marls. The Caloosahatchee river
crosses this area from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico, across
the northern portion of Lee county, and is bordered for the most part
with calcareous hammock lands, underlaid with the Caloosahatchee
marl, of Pliocene age, and covered to a large extent with the cabbage
palmetto, though from a point several miles above Fort Myers, to the
hammock, underlaid with shell, fertile, and especially adapted to truck-
ing crops. The. palmetto flatwoods are so designated from the growth
of saw palmetto, an indication of good soil, with a native timber
growth of Cuban pine. These flatwoods are generally level and
subject at times to temporary overflow, which does not last long,
as the palmetto will not withstand prolonged or excessive flooding.
The sandy soil usually contains suflarge extent organic matter to give it a
gray or dark color. It is frequently underlaid with a sub-stratum
designated as hardpan, though it is not as hard a substance as the
common northern hardpan, and is easily penetrated by a dirt auger or
similar instrument. During the dry season it becomes indurated, and
is said to interfere with the return of water to the surface by capillarity.
In the case of irrigated lands this objection is overcome, and it is
noted that some of the best trucking lands of the State are irrigated
lands of this type, having, however, a sub-stratum of clay beneath the
hardpan. A very small portion of the Everglades lie in Lee county,
but there is more or less land of similar nature in the southern part
of the county, a very fertile muck, especially suitable for sugar cane.
For the most part, the prairie lands are given over to cattle ranges.
Prairie lands are generally flat and practically devoid of trees, and
even those which are entirely dry during the dry season are more or
less flooded during the summer rains. They vary greatly as to soil,
many of those that are dry during a considerable portion of the year
have a light sandy soil, while those that are partly flooded retain pro-
portionately more of the organic matter, which gives the soil a dark
color. Around Estero are found some of the rolling pineland, with
clay sub-soil, fertile and well-drained, naturally.
Cattle En Route Kansas City
Along with the cattle ranges in the eastern and southern portions
of the county are the swamp and overflowed lands, at present unavail-
able for any commercial use. There are, however, about seventy-five
thousand acres in a fairly compact body containing, as it is estimated,
five hundred million feet of excellent cypress timber, and perhaps as
much more in scattering tracts, awaiting transportation facilities to
be cut and utilized. A large area of valuable pine timber is also found
in this district, as well. The highest point in the county, thirty-seven
feet, is at Immokalee, the one town which has no water transportation,
and there also are some of the most fertile lands of the county. On the
whole, while but a fraction of land in Lee county is now under cultiva-
tion, there are many thousands of acres that might be with proper
clearing and local drainage, and thousands of acres more have a great
potential value, when the problems of transportation and drainage on
a larger scale have been solved.
Four periodicals are issued in Lee county, the Fort Myers Daily
and Weekly Press, at the county site, and the American Eagle (weekly)
and the Flaming Sword (monthly) at Estero. There are also four.
banks, at Fort Myers, LaBelle and Boca Grande. The county was
honored this year by having Fort Myers selected as the 1914 conven-
tion city of the Florida Press Association, which will meet in April
of next year. This convention was won after a spirited but friendly
contest with four other prominent cities of Florida, by a vote of almost
two-thirds majority on the first ballot, whereupon the other contestants
generously voted to make the choice unanimous. It also won the 1914
convention of county superintendents, members of school boards and
high school principals, in face of equally strong opposition. These con-
ventions, together with a winter lyceum course and a ten days' Chau-
tauqua course in February, will add greatly to the pleasure of this
winter's visitors to the county.
Lee county has been "dry" for some years past, and has no objec-
Seminole Indians Building Fence
tionable "attractions" for the tourist, but unlimited pleasures and sports
of a legitimate nature. Its woods abound with turkey, quail and deer,
and back in the wilds there may be found also the panther, wildcat and
bear by those interested in the larger game. Fishing for the sheeps-
head, bass and smaller fish generally found in both fresh and salt
waters, is a very popular sport, but greatest of all is the chase of the
tarpon, or "silver king," for which sportsmen have traveled thousands
of miles. Boating and bathing may be mentioned especially amongst
the recreations, and the golf links at Poca Grande. Climate and sports
together not only lure visitors by the thousands every season, but many
have built winter homes as well. Twenty-five years ago the great
inventor, Thomas Alva Edison,'built his winter home on the banks of
the Caloosahatchee, and it was there, in the city of Fort Myers, that
the phonograph was born and the electric light first installed. Gen.
Bennett H. Young, commander-in-chief of the United Confederate
Veterans, has spent thirty-one consecutive winters in this county. Col.
Henry Watterson, the statesman and journalist, who is also a regular
visitor, has written much of Lee county, and no description of the county
would be complete which did not include his classical words:
"My old friend and business associate, Walter N. Haldeman, was
a great hunter and fisherman. First and last he spent $500,000.00 up-
on a play ground which he called Naples. * At Fort Myers we
take a boat down the Caloosahatchee river via Punta Rassa to Naples,
thirty miles below. * The hunting and fishing are virgin. We
kill deer, turkey and quail within one mile of the settlement. The
oyster beds are inexhaustible, and the oysters equal the best Bayou
Cook or Lynn Haven product. This last winter I lived upon pompano.
Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper, transferred immediately from
Sunset at Fort Myers
the gulf to the gridiron. The pompano feed on sandfleas, and I had
only to throw out a hand seine to haul in a two-pound broiler, wrap
him in a towel to keep him from kicking the stuffing out of me, and
carry him back to the cook. Indeed the whole region from Punta
Gorda to Punta Rassa, and from Punta Rassa to Naples and Marco,
and from Fort Myers tip and down the Caloosahatchee river, from
Lake Okeechobee to Sanibel island, is yet the greatest hunting and
fishing region of the world. * *
"The character of the country justly entitles it to the appellation,
the 'Garden Spot of Florida,' it being more beautiful and attractive
than any ever seen in southern Europe, and the weather is as nearly
ideal as can be found anywhere in the world. I am in love with it
because it is a garden of Eden withoutt snakes, because it is a Riviera
LEE COUNTYl -4
?LO~wA A '
THE RECORD CO.
St. Augustine. Florida