Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bongoland





We stumbled upon a local botonical garden and park on Monday.




The park, apparently managed by the county, was a little weak on flowers and other botanicals; but this was kind of expected since Florida has just come out of a rare deep freeze that killed or damaged many of the state's crops and more delicate flowering plants and also because of it being, well, winter.

But there was plenty of green tree coverage and walking along the wooded trails we began to see that there was also some history afoot.




We began to come zcross several cane-crushing contraptions from the early 19th century.




It seems this property was a sugar plantation/factory back in the day. And that day was in the early 1800's: No real roads, no town, no friends. Just wilderness all around, teaming with angry Seminoles.

A few daring enterprenairs had established the operation here just the same, with predictable results. According the the info kiosks one partner was lost in a "stunning" fashion to the locals, if you can imagine what that means.







His ever doubtful wife and her brother hung on to the enterprise for a few more years until she also succumbed to the wilderness.

The Seminoles burnt it down one last time, and the brother bid it all a fond goodbye and good riddance.




From there, the plantation changed hands several times over the course of 60-70 years or so, until the 1950's.

Enter the dinosaurs.




A doctor got hold of the property in the 1940's and came up with the idea of making a tourist attraction out of it. He and some partners had several concrete-over-wire-frame examples of dinosaurs constructed, according to the anatomical knowledge of the day. Then many trail lined gardens were planted, a restoration of the sugar factory ruins, and a baboon named Bongo, to top it all off.

Spectacle for the masses.




The park acheived some notoriety for a few years but alas, the doctor and his sponsors were ahead of their time.




They went under and had to close up, just a couple scant years before the theme park craze really gripped America.

The park is now the ward of the state or county, the old factory ruins now have a sturdy roof over them, the place is dotted with info boards telling it's tale; all making for a surprisingly interesting visit for this small gaggle of tourists.




3 comments:

mattenylou said...

You guys are the only people I know that went to Jurassic Park while on vacation....

The old plantation artifacts look interesting, hope you have some sunny warm days!

Mary E.Carey said...

Where in the Sunshine State ARE you, by the way?

Tony said...

The sun has been pretty shy so far, but it's supposed to improve as the week progresses. But it's warm enough, we'll take it!

Mary, so far we're stationed in the Daytona area and going up and down the coast. We might finish out the week in the Orlando area, still debating that one...