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Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:34

Historically Speaking Featured

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Fort Myers is full of attractions
for the whole family, such as
the Southwest Florida Museum of
History, a perfect adventure for a
rainy day, located at 2031 Jackson
St. Fort Myers. The building the
museum now stands as was formally
known as the Atlantic Coastline
Railroad Depot, originally
built in 1924. It not only captures
Fort Myers history but all of
Southwest Florida as well.
Some fossils here date back
when the Florida peninsula was
covered in shallow water in prehistoric
times. Fossils from giant sea
creatures, such as the Megaladon
that inhabited the area over 12,000
years ago.
In 1971 the Atlantic Coastline
Railroad Depot closed no
longer bringing passenger train
service to Fort Myers. They finally
found a use for the old historic
depot when it reopened in
1982 as the Southwest Florida Museum
of History. This old building
is wonderfully laid out with exhibits
that take you through the
history of South west Florida.
Keeping its former use the
building still has the original segregated
waiting areas and two ticket
office windows thatwere used to separate blacks from
whites.
As you walk into one of the
waiting rooms you'll notice it still
has the original tile flooring and
fireplace. This room is now used
as a cinema showing room, where
a 30 minute film entitled "Untold
Stories of Fort Myers," where they
present amazing interviews with
famous Fort Myers Residents.
The Calusa Indians were as
much a part of Florida History as
the Spanish explorers. In the exhibits
you are able to lay your eyes
on artifacts and shells left behind
by the Calusa Indians You can
read the accounts of the Seminole
wars of Billy Bowlegs and his followers
before they were relocated
to Oklahoma.
The chronological order of
the exhibits will continue to take
you through the times of local history
known as the three C's: cattle,
citrus, and cane. Florida's history
as a cattle rearing history is told
with great detail including photographs
and storyboards. On the
grounds of the museum is a cracker
house recreated to show the cedar
pine walls, sloping tin roof and
shady front porch. These houses
were typical of early local cattlemen
and their families.
As you continue your journey
outside you'll feats your eyes
on an 83 foot Pullman Railcar.
The railcar was restored to its original
1929 luxury era. The only
guide taking you through the
lounge, dining room,
and servants quarters
is a self guiding information
card. Personalized
china, brass
fixtures and compact
sleeping compartments,
each with their
own bathroom is laid
out in historic detail to
recreate the feel of a
luxury railcar. They
even explain how they
kept the air conditioned,
by strapping a
block of ice to the
front of the car, so as
the air rushed through
the carriage it was
cooled for its passengers.
Along with the permanent
exhibits the Southwest Florida Museum
of History has what they call
traveling exhibits that forever
change. They've had exhibits including
the treasure of Eden, King
Tut, and a Roswell display. The
newest exhibit they added to this
was the Beatles 50th Anniversary
Photography exhibit which began
on January 24th, 2014.
Of course the most recent
history of Fort Myers includes the
arrival of Thomas Edison and his
wife Alva. After the railway arrived
in 1904 many other famous
American wealthy families bought
winter homes here including families
like Henry Ford and the Firestones.
The Museum of History
would be a great choice for history
buffs alike. It's a great chance to
see what Fort Myers was like
around the turn of the century and
prehistoric Florida. If you find
yourself on a day filled with rain
head down to the Museum of History
here in our very own Fort
Myers.

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