Exploring the Roaring ’30s and Before

By Staff
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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.

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