Collier-Seminole State Park is about an hour south of Naples. During the 1920s an early developer, Barron Collier, purchased almost a million acres in southern Florida. Collier was a major investor in developing the western section of the Tampa to Miami highway, now known as the Tamiami Trail. The park has on display the only remaining "Walking Dredge" that was used to create the roadbed for the Tamiami Highway. The dredge piled up the rocks and mud after the limestone base had been blasted apart. Workers then used the material as a solid foundation for the road being created through the middle of this shallow swamp.
In 1923 the large land area in south Florida became Collier County and a park was created to protect the Royal Palm trees that grew here. It is one of only three places in this State where the Royal Palm tree originally grew. These are the tall, thin, gray cement-color palms, where the upper third of the tree changes to a smooth soft green before branching into the traditional palm fronds.
Barron Collier donated the Park area to the County to serve as a memorial to himself and those who fought on both sides of the three Seminole Wars. In 1947 the County donated the land to the State of Florida and it became Collier-Seminole State Park.
We walked on the Royal Palm Hammock Trail, which has informative signage throughout its length. After our walk we found a sunny table and had a picnic. Meanwhile, the wind had been steadily increasing and by the time we finished eating, broken palm fronds were whipping across the grass fast enough to cause damage if you got in their path. We planned to come back next week and do the guided canoe trip along the Blackwater river, which travels through the ever- present mangrove forest.
A Royal Palm tree
This is the Limbo Gumbo Tree, fondly named the Tourist Tree, or Sunburn Tree, because
of its red peeling bark. LJM
Epiphytes, or air plants, hang on everywhere in all the trees. They include ferns, mosses, and
plants called bromeliads, that get their nutrients from wind blown dust and leaf debris that fall
Branch of a live oak tree covered with epiphytes
This poor bird only had one foot. It looked well healed, so I guess he is a survivor
Friday we went to Lover's Key State Park near Fort Myers. It was a cool sunny day, so we dressed in layers, packed a lunch, and met the Burwell's there at noon. The beach was wind free and loaded with shells so we spread out our blankets and spent a couple of hours lounging in the sun and searching for more shells to bring home.