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History Comes To Life At The Fort Christmas Historical Park

Apr 14, 2008
If you've got some kids who think that history is boring, then you should treat them to the Fort Christmas Historical Park, the next time you take a vacation in the Orlando, Florida area. Located 20 miles from Orlando, this park is centered on a fort that played an important part in the Seminole Indian War in the 1830s.

Fort Christmas is located in Christmas, Florida just off State Road 50, twenty miles east of Orlando enroute to Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and Canaveral National Seashore in Titusville.

On December 25, 1837, a force of 2,000 U.S. Army Soldiers and Alabama Volunteers arrived near this spot to construct a fort which was aptly named, Fort Christmas. This fort was only one of over 200 forts built during the Second Seminole Indian War, 1835 - 1842. The fort houses exhibits and a video presentation on the Seminole Indian Wars.

The fort and stockade were reproduced in 1976-1977 by the Orange County Parks Department as a bicentennial project. The original fort was located approximately one mile north of Fort Christmas Historical Park on a small creek. Built in 1837 by the United States Army under the orders of General Jesup, the fort was a supply depot in a chain of forts constructed along the St. Johns River during a winter campaign against the Seminole Indians.

In March of 1838 the military abandoned the fort, since the fighting had moved so far south that supplies were brought by ship into Jupiter Inlet. Visit the blockhouses for exhibits on the soldiers, the Indians, and pioneers of East Orange County. A video presentation, "History of the Seminole Indian Wars," is set to replay every thirty minutes.

As interesting as the Fort and the presentations on the Seminole Indian War is, the park also offers carefully preserved buildings that show what pioneer life was like in the period from 1870 to 1930.

Seven restored historical homes preserve the 'Cracker' architecture of East Orange County. Key themes are homesteading, cattle, citrus, hunting, fishing and trapping.

A one room schoolhouse and a one room lunchroom are carefully preserved as are the simple log-cabin homes of some of the earliest settlers. If your kids are fascinated by cowboys then the cow camps will be an item of interest.

Cow camps were semi-permanent camps, shared by all. Situated near water, shade and good grazing, they were constructed a day's drive apart. Cow camps provided shelter for the cowboys, their ponies and dogs. Usually wooden pens for holding cattle were nearby.

The lean-to style camp is an example of a hastily prepared shelter. These were built and used by the cow hunter when weather was rainy or cold. Constructed in less than an hour, it could be used repeatedly by simply replacing or adding palmetto fronds to the roof.

The hours for visiting the park are as follows: Summer -- 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Winter -- 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Hours change when the clock changes.

The park also has a gift shop. Items for sale include Pioneer and Native American toys, jewelry, crafts, books and candy. All proceeds benefit Fort Christmas Historical Park. Now located in the new Visitors Center, the shop is open Mon.-Sat.: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. It is closed on Sunday.

If you need any additional information contact the park at: Fort Christmas Historical Park
1300 Fort Christmas Road (C.R. 420), Christmas, Florida 32709, Telephone: 407-568-4149
About the Author
Mark Whichard and his wife Susan are experts in the field of Disney Home Rentals with experience dating to 1998. Visit their website: http://www.disneyhomerentals.com/ for more information about renting villas or homes near Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
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