The Atypical Orange County Regional History Center

Florida is a watery state.  No place on this shrinking peninsula is more than 60 miles from the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.  It has 320 known springs, 20 rivers, 700 streams, 4 major aquifers, and many lakes.  Some are huge like Lake Okeechobee.  Orlando has several water parks including Aquatica, Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, and Universal’s Volcano Bay.  Ruth and I did not get wet while there.  We ended up seeking smaller pleasures.

The Timucuan Indians, who lived in what would become the State of Florida for 12,000 years, used local and abundant cypress trees to make dugout canoes that became their main means of transportation.  They were interesting people.  Timucuan men let their fingernails grow long to, it’s assumed, use them in fighting enemies. They created huge trash heaps, some 75 feet tall, that became archaeologists’ delights.  I learned a lot about them in the Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando.

This is not your typical local culture museum.  It’s a 5 Compass Smithsonian affiliate situated in an old courthouse with both excellent temporary and permanent displays.   The Orange County Regional History Center describes the Timucuans as “Tattooed, pierced, and adorned with shells.”  The engraving above shows them treating the sick with drinks, tobacco and smoke.

Some of Orange County Regional History Center’s other permanent displays fully explained the orange industry, Florida Crackers, this state’s importance in the aviation and cattle industries, and a lot more.   At one point I found myself taking a photo of a recipe for Baked Possum, not that I plan to make it any time soon.  It’s current temporary, Smithsonian-influenced show is “Genome–Unlocking Life’s Code”, which is on exhibit until January 6 of next year.

As I wandered the displays, I found myself constantly surprised.  Items of high interest were everywhere.  For example, I really liked Harold Newton’s atmospheric Florida landscape painting below.

Most people who visit Orlando end up in a water park.  Maybe next time.




About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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