Old Florida lives on at Lake Kissimmee State Park — the majestic oak trees, native wildlife from eagles to alligators, even the pioneers and their long-horned cracker cows. This 6,000-acre state park …
Camp Mack, a Florida Original
“It isn’t as it used to be in the old times. Then everybody traveled by steamboat …” wrote Mark Twain in his great American novel, Life on the Mississippi. And so it was for the Kissimmee River in Central Florida at the turn of the 19th century. With the end of the Seminole Wars, the opening of Florida to commercial trade had begun.
Soldiers, native Seminoles and hardy pioneers all looking to make a future or fortune settled along the winding Kissimmee, where steamboats and stallions connected the great watershed of Central Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. Fish camps, cow camps and trading outposts dotted the shorelines — the truck stops, convenience stores and motels of their day. In a stand of dense oak trees, oering welcome shade from Florida’s brutal summer sun, one such outpost arose on the north bank of Lake Kissimmee. It would become simply known as Camp Mack.
Roughly a century later, it would become Camp Mack, a Guy Harvey Lodge, Marina and RV Resort. Established on the grounds of Fort Gardiner, once commanded by U.S. Army Col. and future 12th President of the United States Zachary Taylor, Camp Mack’s riverfront setting was well known among all who called the Kissimmee River home — especially among the colorful steamboat captains who kept the wheels of commerce turning … paddle wheels to be clear.
To read more of the story visit Guy Harvey Magazine feature article on Camp Mack.