History & Culture
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.
The completion of the Tamiami Trail in 1928, allowed for easy travel across the swamp for everyone who could afford a Model-T. The road spurred the first major land boom in south Florida causing development along the Atlantic coastal ridge to the east and eventually along the Gulf Coast to the west. For the most part the swamps in the center of south Florida remained wild.
Today, over 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.