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Remembering our Tourism Pioneers of Southwest Florida and the Everglades

Following in the Footsteps of SWFL Tourism Pioneers


The past 100 years has been a period of change and transformation throughout Southwest Florida and the Everglades. Families, businesses and buildings have come and go during this passage of time. Since the development of life in South Florida, the Everglades has held it’s position as a land of beautiful mystery to all who discover her wonders. Much like our adventure tour, there were destinations to reach and tours to join even during the early days of Everglades tourism. Though many (not all) of these entertainment centers and activities have been lost to the hands of time, we would like to take a look back at a few of these popular attractions to keep their memory and distinguished status’ alive.


Everglades Observatory

Located on the eastern edge of the Everglades, this 25 foot tower was built in the early 1900s to provide tourists stunning views of exotic swamplands. These tourists were also solicited to purchase their own plot of land out in the Glades. The Everglades Observatory drew visitors out from the Miami city center to expose them to the possibilities of life and exploration of the unique landscape of the glades.


Clewiston Inn Wild Life Mural

The Clewiston Inn dates back to 1938 and is home to “The Everglades Lounge” a unique lounge area with walls painted from floor to ceiling with an impressive wildlife mural. The images include handpainted, life size portrayals of alligator, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, many birds, and other Floridian animals and plants.


Ted Smallwood’s Store

Standing at the Southernmost point of Southwest Florida is Ted Smallwood’s store, a unique trading post dating back to 1906. Once home to a functioning trading stop, the store housed hides, furs, farm produce and more. Travelers, merchants and traders from across Florida, Cuba and the gulf of mexico frequented the post. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and it remained open and active until 1982 when it’s doors closed. Reopening in the 90s, today it serves as a time capsule of Florida pioneer history.