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85 years ago today

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On April 26, 1928, the Tamiami Trail Highway (now U.S. Highway 41) opened between Tampa and Miami. A grand celebration was held in Everglades City, and will be commemorated again tomorrow, as it is every year.

This was significant for the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, because it opened them up to contact to the outside world. They were not recognized by the United States since the wars ended 70 years earlier, and received no land or money. With the opening of the highway, the Indians moved their villages along the trail to take advantage of the economic opportunity. The opened their villages to tourists and sold crafts, wrestled alligators, and later on led airboat tours. Some people consider it exploitation for tourism, by the Indians did not see it that way. They felt is was a way that they could retain as much of their traditional life and culture as they could during changing times, and take advantage of the tourism dollars. In some respect, Seminoles and Miccosukees have been involved in the tourist economy of Florida for the past century.

Below is an interesting souvenir from the Collier County Museum. A reproduction of the badges worn by the Southwest Florida Mounted Police in honor of the 85th anniversary of the opening of the the Tamiami Trail on April 26, 1928.

small SW Fla Mounted Police badge - Copy

There were 6 Southwest Florida Mounted Police Stations, built by Barron Collier along the Tamiami Trail (US 41). The Stations were built at ten-mile intervals, Dade County line to Belle Meade. (Paola, Monroe Station, Carnestown, Weavers Station, Royal Palm Hammock, and Belle Meade.) Each station was manned by a husband and wife team who lived at the station. The husband was deputized by the County Sheriff's Department. Their duties were primarily to aid motorists although they could double as police. The only original buildings that exist are the closed remains at Monroe Station, that are looking very dilapidated, and Royal Palm hammock, that is still in use with some additions on the original building. You can still buy gas and a sandwich at Royal Palm Hammock, in the original building. (I can see the back of the building right now out my window.)

The Southwest Florida Mounted Police program began in 1928 and was dropped as funds dried up during the Great Depression. From what I am told, the badges were made of pewter like this one.
Current Location:
the hammock
Current Mood:
numb numb
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