Street Address
2822 Museum Drive
Zolfo Springs, FL 33890
Mailing Address
2822 Museum Drive
Zolfo Springs, FL 33890
Hours
Monday - Friday9 AM - 5 PM
Admissions
General Admission: $2
Children under 12: Free
Staff
Judith George, Museum Director

Description

Welcome to the Cracker Trail Museum

Since its beginning in 1967, Cracker Trail Museum has collected over 4,000 items related to pioneer-era Florida history. Each item is maintained either within glass enclosed cases or strategically placed around the floor of the museum. Many of the larger items are provided in a setting that would be reminiscent of pioneer living. The items are identified with a tag that not only gives its description, but includes the name of the person who donated it. Proper records are maintained, so at any time, a guest may inquire about a certain item donated by a family member and its location can be retrieved through its computer data base. This procedure is used many times within the course of a month to assist family members for viewing a loved one’s acquisition.

The "Oral History Program"

Cracker Trail Museum has been successful during the last year in obtaining oral histories from pioneer families within the community. Those interviews have been transferred to a DVD and are used along with photographs of the particular subject in a slideshow that is shown daily in the museum. It is the intent of the museum to collect as many of these interviews as possible in order to preserve an additional aspect of Hardee County’s history.

Keeping History Alive

Towards the middle of February each year, members of the Florida Cracker Trail Association begin their annual cross-state trail ride, beginning on the state's east cost and ultimately ending on the west coast.

Today's participants are dedicated to preserving Florida's cattle and horse heritage by conducting this annual cross-state horseback ride. The riders are passionate with their endeavor in keeping history alive as they make the trip which spans over a six day period. These riders focus on commemorating, not only the Florida "Crackers", but also the country’s first cowboys. They became known as crackers for the whip cracking as they rounded up and drove cattle across the state, which ultimately concluded at markets in Cuba and elsewhere, via shipping ports throughout the state.

In the early 1800's, this route was used for both cattle and horses. Those Florida "Crackers", in the early stages of Florida's emergence as a major cattle producer, made this trip, not for pleasure, but for their sheer existence. Today the Cracker Trail includes parts of State Road 66, State Road 64, and U.S. Highway 98. It runs from just east of Bradenton, and ends in Fort Pierce, a total distance of approximately 120 miles.

History

Cracker Trail Museum was started by the Peace River Valley Historical Society in 1967. A grant in the amount of $20,000 was procured from the Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission with technical help from the U.S. Soil Conservation Service and a building was constructed at what is now Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs. It was originally known as Pioneer Park Museum.

The objectives of the newly established museum was to serve the public interest of the Peace River Valley by providing a means for the collection, preservation and interpretation of collections of significant historic objects from the area served by the museum. In addition, its primary obligation was to guarantee adequate preservation of the collections and effective use of their contents.

Artifacts Collections

Fossils from the area referred to as "Bone Valley" in Hardee County, where mastedons were unearthed and sent to the Smithsonian Insititute in D.C.

Photography Collections

Another project that Cracker Trail Museum has been successful with during the last few years is that of expanding its photographic collection. In many instances, individuals are reluctant to relinquish their original prints, but they are willing to have their collections scanned for the museum’s use. Scanning equipment and laptop computers have been taken into individuals’ homes and businesses to make it more convenient for those original print owners. By offering this arrangement, Cracker Trail Museum has increased its photograph collection by over 200 historic pictures now displayed in the museum.

  • Seminole Indian artifacts

Educational Programs

Outdoor Classroom with area third-graders from November-January annually.

    Library

    Access: General Public

    Appointment required: No