Reed Travel Features
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The history of Kissimmee-St. Cloud can be
traced at two local museums: the Historical Museum of St. Cloud
& Osceola County and the Osceola County Historical Society
& Pioneer Enrichment Center.
Before the late 1800s, the Kissimmee-St. Cloud area was
wilderness, with a bountiful variety of native birds, fish and
game. Vast cypress swamps and thick vegetation in what would later
become Osceola County provided protection for powerful Seminole
chieftains as they resisted President Andrew Jackson's campaign to
relocate them and their people to land west of the Mississippi
Settlers did not arrive in large numbers until after the Civil
War, when a tiny trading center known as Allendale was founded. In
1881, Philadelphia businessman Hamilton Disston purchased 4 million
acres of land here at 25 cents an acre. Selecting Allendale as his
headquarters, Disston changed the town's name to Kissimmee, a
Caloosa Indian word meaning Heaven's Place. He drained part of the
central Florida swamps and built sugar plantations and lumber
camps, which later were interconnected by a system of waterways and
When the first railroad reached Kissimmee in 1882, the area
became a water and rail transfer hub and the hub of commerce in
central Florida. In 1883, the South Florida Railroad built the
Tropical hotel, whose guests included President Chester A.
Until the early 1900s, cattle roamed freely and ranchers brought
livestock to Kissimmee for shipment to Cuba. It was here that the
Florida Cattleman's Association was founded in 1934.
St. Cloud grew from the ruins of a failed Disston sugar
plantation and became a haven for Union veterans of the Civil War
in 1909, two years before the town's incorporation.
Visitors are admitted free to the Historical Museum of St. Cloud
& Osceola County. For more information, call (407)
The Osceola County Historical Society & Pioneer Enrichment
Center here features an 1899 house, a general store from the first
decade of this century and a museum of pioneer artifacts, all
surrounded by 100-year-old oak trees. There is a nominal fee for
admission. For more information, call (407) 396-8644.
Both museums operate on a flexible schedule; calls in advance
For area information, contact the Kissimmee-St. Cloud Convention
& Visitors Bureau at (800) 327-9159.