A historical site and museum guide for fort myers

Fort Myers is culturally and historically a land of riches. Visit local museums and sites to learn about its intriguing past.

Fort Myers, Florida is culturally rich and magnificently historical. In fact, some of our country's earliest history can be documented here. From the arrival of Ponce de Leon to the demise of the Calusa Indian tribe, there are innumerable historical wonders in this gulf coast paradise. Recent decades found great American inventors on the shores of the city of Fort Myers, and their homes and inventions are now preserved for all to enjoy and learn from. Whether you're a steadfast history buff or have a fascination with the "old days," you'll find historical significance at several sites and museums in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Seminole Gulf Railway is among the more unusual ways to experience some Fort Myers history. Departing Colonial Station on Colonial Boulevard, narrators share information on the railroad history in the region, the vast wildlife population along the Caloosahatchee River, and the settling of this gulf coast region. Vintage coach cars will fascinate train enthusiasts. And for the even more adventuresome, check out a murder mystery train excursion. Some meals and snacks are offered. Call the Seminole Gulf Railway at (239) 275-8487.

The Southwest Florida Museum of History is located in a restored railroad depot on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. One of the best sources of information on the Calusa Indian tribe that inhabited southwest Florida from the 1500's through the early 1800's, this museum also has exhibits of railroad cars. The Esperanza""noted to be the last built Pullman private railroad care, and also the longest ever built""is on exhibit here as well. Call the museum for admission prices and hours of operation at (239) 332-5955.

Located at 2000 Crawford Avenue in Fort Myers, Imaginarium is said to be a children's museum, but many an adult has come away from its exhibits better informed. Geared to children and even pre-schoolers, this museum features wildlife exhibits and live animal shows. A look back at Florida's past is available in its exhibit halls. Though recommended for children, everyone will come away with more Fort Myers knowledge after a visit to Imaginarium. (239) 337-3332

The 20th century found intelligence and invention in a neighborhood off McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers. For several winters, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison fled the northern chill and spent a time at adjacent homes in Fort Myers. Never satisfied to simply vacation here, Ford and Edison worked. A tour of Edison's lab, a display of Ford's automobiles and an amazing tour of these historical homes are afforded visitors at the Edison-Ford Winter Estates. Group tours form constantly and are worth the few minutes wait one might encounter. Call the Edison-Ford Winter Estates at (239) 334-7419 for tour times, museum information and a list of special events and activities. During the month of February (Thomas Edison's birthday month) there are parades and festivals galore held in his honor at and near the museum.

The Murphy-Burroughs Home, located at 2505 First Street in Fort Myers was constructed in 1901 and was the winter home of Montana cattle mogul John Murphy. The tour includes the home and period antiques, and provides a fascinating glimpse at Georgian Revival Architecture. This is one tour that is best suited toward adults. Call (239)332-6125 for hours of operation and admission prices.

Undoubtedly the most fascinating historical site in the Fort Myers region is Mound Key. Built by the Calusa Indians, this man-made island was fashioned from the ocean's floor up by seashells and marl, a claylike substance much like our cement of today. The Calusa tribe was also known as the Shell People, because of their clever utilization of the region's vast resource of seashells. IN addition to building shell mounds as islands, the Calusa Indians also built burial mounds for their dead. Calusa Indian artifacts have been excavated in the region even in recent months. Several local boat tour companies offer trips to Mound Key. Calusa Coast Outfitters, located at Fish Tale Marina at 7225 Estero Boulevard on the beach, offers guided tours of Mound Key. In addition to the tours, the owners of this business are a wealth of historical information themselves. A stop is well worth the visit even if a tour isn't in your plans. Call Calusa Coast Outfitters at (239) 418-5941.

If you don't relive history in this fascinating gulf coast region, there is only one other alternative. Take in its vast sites, historical spots, wildlife, beaches and entertainment. You just may in fact create a little history of your own!

© High Speed Ventures 2011