Exploring the Roaring '30s and Before

The Koreshan State Park Show

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Sent to us by George K. Watson, 159 J1 McGregor Blvd. SW, Fort Myers, Florida 33908

The months of February and March had proven to be very warm and very dry throughout Florida, but wouldn't you know it the opening day of the Koreshan State Park Show, it poured for hours on end, all day Friday, March 14.

We needed the rain so much that hardly anyone complained. All hoped that it would clear up overnight and that the exhibitors and visitors would show up in record numbers. Lo and behold, Saturday morning brought with it clear skies, lots of sun, but also lots of large puddles. It was well into the morning before many exhibitors could get there and set up, and even further into the day before the crowd showed to view engines, tractors, old cars, knitting machines, washing machines and hundreds of other items on display.

Many were there to see how the volunteers at the park had made out with their restoration of the large Fairbanks-Morse engine in the powerhouse, which was used to generate electricity for the original Koreshan Settlement.

The amount of work on this project was obvious to see. Although not yet belted to the large generator and putting out tons of watts, the machine looked excellent with a new coat of gray paint. The pipes for cooling and exhausting were painted in contrasting colors, and added much to the sight. Some items needed to complete the job were still missing, but for the most part, it looked impressive. 'Wait 'fill next year!' was the motto of the restoration crew, all of whom beamed with pride at their accomplishment. It should be interesting in '98.

Saturday's crowd was a little lighter than usual, probably because of the weather. The tractor/truck parade wound its way throughout the park camping area in mid-afternoon and aroused some campers from their snoozes, but all grinned with pleasure when they saw just what had awakened them. After the park closed, the exhibitors gathered in a group along with the park hosts and took part in a pot luck supper. Along with a roasted pig supplied by two of the Florida Flywheel members, the food table seemed to burst with every available food. What an enjoyable evening! Another reason to be an engine nut, too.

Sunday was another perfect day and the crowd did come out to view the exhibits all day long. The old tractor, truck and car parade was a hit with all. Many old timers just loved to hear those old oogah horns and compression, wolf and steam whistles in action.

For those winter visitors to southern Florida looking for some unique history, try a visit to this park. It was the original settlement for a large religious group who called themselves the Koreshans. Many old buildings remain from the past, and the grounds near the Estero River have much to offer in the way of different flora and fauna. The park is located just off Florida's Highway 41, about 10 miles south of Fort Myers. It was donated to the state by the few surviving members many years ago.