Koreshan State Park, Estero, FL. A Must for History AND Nature Buffs.
The Koreshan State Historic Site is a state park in Lee County, Florida located on U.S. Highway 41 at Corkscrew Road. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1976 under the designation of Koreshan Unity Settlement Historic District. It contains areas of pine flatwoods habitat and the site of a religious colony, the Koreshan Unity, whose last members deeded the land to the state in 1961. Essentially, what we have is a Florida state park devoted to preserving the story of a wacky 19th century cult. Why? Simply put...the Koreshan Unity believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere. These people picked up and left Chicago to become pioneers on the Florida frontier in 1894 because they thought we lived inside a bubble. Today Koreshan State Park offers great natural beauty. Sprawling along the lovely Estero River, there are gardens and exotic bamboo forests left over from the community’s beautification efforts, 11 historic buildings and attractive, shaded picnic sites and campgrounds.
The Koreshans imported a wide range of plant species from across the world, including: a Monkey Puzzle Tree, which is indigenous to South America and drops seed pods as large as a football, a number of Sausage Trees, which are native to Africa and a favored food of Giraffes, Mango and other fruit bearing trees, an extraordinary amount of Japanese Bamboo that originally hails from the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, and many flowering trees and plants of a wide variety. Among the wildlife of the park are Gopher Tortoises, Bobcats, Gray foxes, North American River Otters and American Alligators, as well as such birds as Swallow-tailed Kites, Bald Eagles, Northern Bobwhites, and Red-shouldered Hawks.
Activities include fishing, picnicking, and boating, as well as camping, canoeing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Amenities include a campground, boat ramp, canoe rentals, trails and a picnic area on the Estero River. Beach activities along the Gulf, and kayak rentals on the river are available within a relatively short distance outside the park.
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