Big Cypress history is as varied and colorful as the individuals who carved out a life for themselves in the swamp. For tens of thousands of years, humans have changed, and have been changed by, this place we call the Big Cypress Swamp. First the Calusa, followed by European explorers of the 1500s, then the Miccosukee, Seminole and other settlers to the area. The rugged terrain challenged many early travelers as they established the watery wilderness of the swamp as their home.
Soon after the Tamiami Trail was completed in 1928, the logging industry began within the Big Cypress Swamp. Many of the people that were involved in the activity were of African American descent.
To learn more about their role read the report African Americans and the Sawmills of Big Cypress - A Brief History by Frank and Audrey Peterman. (large file 3.54 mbs)
Today, nearly one million people explore the Preserve each year. We learn from the stories of those who walked the swamp before us, allowing appreciation of their lasting footprints that led to conscious preservation.
Did You Know?
Mermaid sightings have been reported by sailors throughout history who often blamed the part-woman, part-fish beings for leading them astray. But folklore experts believe that what those sailors were seeing were not mermaids, but rather air-breathing manatees, or their dugong relatives. More...