Florida: DeSoto County

DeSoto County (pop. 34,862) is east of Sarasota County. It was named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto – as was Hernando County, farther north in Florida.

The only other DeSoto County is in Mississippi. Its county seat is the city of Hernando.

In the Memphis metropolitan area

The county seat of DeSoto County, Florida, is the city of Arcadia (pop. 7,636).

DeSoto County Courthouse (1913)

The Arcadia Opera House (1906) is now one of downtown DeSoto’s many antique stores.

The theater was on the second floor.

The Opera House was built after a fire destroyed most of Arcadia’s business district in 1905.

Only two downtown buildings survived

Hurricane Charley in 2004 did extensive damage to Arcadia and DeSoto County. About 95% of downtown buildings were damaged.

Much damage all over southwestern Florida

Carlstrom Field was a military airfield, southwest of Arcadia, that trained pilots from 1917 to 1945.

It became a hospital after WWII.

DeSoto County has the second-most acres in citrus trees (after Polk County) of any county in Florida.

NEXT: CHARLOTTE COUNTY

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Florida: Hardee County

Hardee County (pop. 27,731) is west of Highlands County. It’s the only Hardee County in the U.S.

The county was named for Cary A. Hardee (1876-1957), governor of Florida from 1921 to 1925.

Florida’s 23rd governor

The county seat of Hardee County is the city of Wauchula (pop. 4,952).

Hardee County Courthouse (1927)

Wauchula has long been known as the “Cucumber Capital of the World,” although today the area produces more citrus than cucumber.

The 106-mile Peace River, popular for canoeing, flows through Wauchula. The river flows into the Gulf of Mexico in Charlotte County.

Also a popular area for fossil hunters

Paynes Creek Historic State Park is located on the site of Fort Chokonikla – built in 1849 to protect white settlers from Seminole Indians. The fort was abandoned within a year, because so many people were dying of malaria.

It was in a swampy breeding ground for mosquitos.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley did $750 million damage in Hardee County, destroying 1,400 homes.

Power was out all over the county.

NEXT: MANATEE COUNTY

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