On the western edge of the Everglades and deep in the heart of the 10,000 Islands, Chokoloskee Island has been called one of Florida’s last frontiers. At the Historic Smallwood Store you will learn the story of the pioneers who tamed this vast wilderness. Human Habitation of Chokoloskee Island began approximately 2,000 years ago when a mound dwelling people began altering the landscape with mounds and canals. The canals were about 15 feet wide, 3 feet to 6 feet deep, and were used by the Calusa for traveling in dugout canoes until the mid-1700s, when the tribe disappeared from Florida. Subsequent influxes of Native Americans expanded the mounds and they fished, hunted and farmed the rich fertile soil. Moving south from conflict in North Florida and Georgia, the Seminole Indians were the last native peoples to make the Everglades their home. White settlements in the Chokoloskee Bay Area began near the end of the 19th century. Plume, hide and fur hunters as well as archaeologist were the first to visit. They were quickly followed by families who combined seasonal hunting, fishing and farming to make a living like their native predecessors.
Settlement brought a need for goods and mail and that need was met by the Smallwood Store. Established in 1906 by Ted Smallwood, this Trading Post served a remote and isolated area buying hides, furs, and farm produce in exchange for providing the goods required to survive. Ted Smallwood’s Store was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, it remained opened until 1982. When the doors were shut, 90% of the original goods remained in the store. In 1990 Ted’s granddaughter reopened the store as a museum and today it serves as a time capsule of Florida pioneer history. The center section of the building remains as Ted would have known it. The hide room has been turned into exhibit space, telling the history of Southwest Florida’s pioneers.
Come take a walk back in time and experience the unique history of the 10,000 Islands.
Open 7 DAYS A WEEK!
Dec – Apr….10am-5pm
May – Nov….11am-5pm