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The Everglades

The March of Progress


South of Lake Okeechobee lies the great Florida Everglades, a mighty sawgrassed morass, fringed by vast cypress swamps and broad savannas intermingled with pine and palm hammocks, salt meadows, and, on the lower coasts, with mangrove thickets.

The highest of this land is but a few feet above sea level and when rainy seasons come, all becomes swamp land, save only the higher hammocks.

Along both east and west coasts extend strips of higher land bordering the ocean and the Gulf. Between these strips, and south of the great lake, all is Everglades. This territory averages fifty miles in width and contains over five thousand square miles.

In the cypress swamps stand some of the mightiest trees in Florida, trees second only to the giant Redwood of the Pacific Coast in size.

Through these swamps and hammocks wind innumerable creeks and streams-a veritable labyrinth of waterways known only to the bronze-skinned inhabitants of the glades.

These Indians, remnants of the Seminole nation, have their towns in the remote fastnesses of the Everglades. They did not always live in this section, but were driven here from their homes in North Florida at the close of the long and bloody Seminole war. Refusing to surrender or to acknowledge the authority of the United States, they retreated into these wilds, where the soldiers could not follow. Today they live at peace with the white man, but under their own tribal laws. They have never formally submitted to the government.

As guides and hunters they are unsurpassed. Their living comes from the fish and game they catch and kill and from the hides they trade to the white man. Fish abound in the swamps and streams, and game, large and small, is plentiful.

Deer, bear, wildcats and panthers are to be found, besides mink, otter, muskrats, squirrels and rabbits. Many birds, including quail, are in the hammocks, while water birds abound. Here are found the beautiful egret and the flamingo. In the waters, besides countless varieties of fish, are crocodiles and alligators in abundance. Snakes are plentiful and snake-skins form a part of the primitive barter.

The Seminoles navigate the winding streams in shallow-draft dug-out canoes, propelled by push-poles. Occasionally white hunters, guided by Seminoles, invade the district and are richly rewarded in game and by the thrill of exploring.

Excerpt from "Florida: The March of Progress" published circa 1930s by the Florida Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Immigration.


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