Friday, November 27, 2009

Downtown Ft. Myers and the SW Florida Historical Museum

I have lived in Southwest Florida all of my life, but there was still much for me to learn as it turned out. I have been to the SW Florida Historical Museum before, but I forgot much of what it contained. That is where the trip began and the following photo shows the first historical attraction that the class was treated to. What is so special about this house, you ask? Well, it carries the quaintly bigoted and anachronistic appellation of "cracker house." It is an actual house of a "Florida cracker" from at least a century ago. It essentially holds a combination bedroom and kitchen.

After the "cracker house," the class was taken through an old train car, which ran through this area when the train line was still running. Pictured here is a small, yet elegant room in the car.

The house and the train car were relatively recent history however, and the museum guide took us next to see the remains of prehistoric creatures that once lived right here in Southwest Florida. This was very interesting to me! The size of the creatures that once inhabited the cities that I call home is mindboggling. Difficult to frame the beast in a single photograph, I was only able to capture the upper body of this giant...SLOTH! Am I reading the information card correctly, this twenty foot tall monster that looks like Bigfoot was a SLOTH!? Sufficed to say, that was the first time I had ever seen such an animal. Sloths in modern times are only 3 to 4 feet long, and I don't think they stand on their hind legs very often. There were also gigantic shark teeth and a large woolly mammoth head featured in this display.

Traveling through time once again, we arrived thousands, if not millions of years later with the artwork of the indigenous Native Americans of this region. I believe that the Miccosukee and Seminole were among the tribes of Southwest Florida. Here are some of their tools and decorative pieces (including the small "Marco Island Cat," which is a figurine right below the mask in the top center):

There were other exhibits, including fisherman artifacts and the photographic works of Clyde Butcher and his wife, but what interested me more than those came at the end of the tour. Unbeknownst to me, the small Page Field Private Airport in Ft. Myers once was the training grounds for air force troops around the time of World War II. Pictured first is a plane engine, and secondly is a mounted chain gun.

We left the museum and were now loose in Downtown Ft. Myers. We saw parks that showcased various palm tree species from around the world, which I had no idea even existed.

Going around the city hall building, one comes upon this massive mosaic billboard. It is called "An Alternative History" and essentially represents slavery and the mistreatment of indigenous peoples in this area times past. It's an amazing piece of artwork.

The photo above was one of two cylinders that I had never noticed before. The two together are called "The Caloosahatchee Manuscipts." A little more information about them can be found here

Above is a lovely view of the Caloosahatchee River from the downtown dock area.

And our last stop was at the commemorative fountain (pictured below) in Downtown Ft. Myers, which I believe is named "The Three Friends," which included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone. All of whom lived in Ft. Myers and on the Edison Home Estates. In light of this class, which deals with environmental issues, such as energy conservation and reducing carbon emissions, these three individuals actually could be called the root cause of our environmental problems today. Though regarded as great men, Thomas Edison inventing so many electrical gadgets, and Ford and Firestone assembling the first cars, their mechanical accomplishments would use up the earth's natural resources, cause desire for material objects, and in effect, destroy the environment!

Should we REALLY be honoring these men? My proposed title for this fountain is the "Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

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