Tag Archives: Polk County

A Day At The Museum

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My grandmother Kay taught me three things…Take an avid interest in your surroundings, never miss an opportunity to visit historic sites (that goes double if they’re free), and never, under any circumstances, allow anyone to photograph you without your lipstick. That last one has come in handy over the years, and the first two were highly useful today when I found myself with two long hours to kill in a small town…

I was in Bartow, Florida, which also happens to be the county seat of Polk County, in Central Florida. There on Main Street, which is the main drag through Bartow, is the Polk County Historic Museum (also the old courthouse). My grandmother would have been proud of me…I walked all around, looked at all the exhibits, and not once did I whine and complain that it was borrrrr-ING. She sure heard that a lot when I was young and was a frequent travel guest of her and my grandfather. I saw a lot that interested me actually–I’ve evolved, I guess. And, I wish she had been there with me today because I saw a lot of of items that would have caught her eye too.

So, from Kay and me, here are just a few of the fascinating things Polk County Historic Museum has to offer…

A Very Vintage Hair Dryer & “Permanent Wave” Machine

An Exhibit About The First Theater In Polk County

America’s Oldest Man, Charlie Smith

And His Letter From President and Mrs. Ford

A BIG Catch…


An Old Fashioned Curling Iron, and a Rather Creepy Hair Braid…

Old Traffic Lights (With No Little Gotcha Cameras Like the Ones Nowadays In Polk County)

Scary, Prehistoric Monster Heads…And One Modern One…

Vintage Law Man Accessories

Women’s History…

And Some Fascinating Florida Trivia…Thanks, Ponce…I Love Those Oranges!

Museum Information & Fees

LOCATION

The museum is located in downtown Bartow at:

100 East Main Street (corner of Main & Broadway)
Bartow, Florida 33830

HOURS OF OPERATION

Tuesday – Friday 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Saturday 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
Closed Sundays & Mondays

In 2011 the museum will also be CLOSED on the additional days listed below:

  • Friday, November 11 – Veteran’s Day Observance
  • Thursday & Friday, November 24 & 25 – Thanksgiving
  • Friday & Saturday, December 23 & 24 – Christmas Holidays

ADMISSION FEE

Admission to the museum is FREE to the public.

For Information On Polk County’s Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) This Year, Click The Photo Below…

Wild Kingdom Off The Beaten Path

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The Circle B Bar Reserve

Just this side of Disney World, and a relatively short drive from whatever overpriced, overcrowded theme park resort you might be staying at in Orlando, is a tourist’s treasure that is so off the beaten path, so under-publicized, that it is known mostly to Central Florida residents. It’s the Circle B Bar Reserve, an environmental freshwater marsh and swampland reserve that is not only a total kick in the pants to visit, but unlike your favorite theme park with their marked up souvenirs and $50+ burger and fries lunches, admission is FREE. Special guided tours are available for a fee, but you really don’t need one to see what there is to see at the Circle B.

Walking at the Circle B, Down Alligator Alley

Obviously, the infamous American Alligator is the star attraction at Circle B, and you will be treated to plenty of them in their natural habitat in the reserve’s Lake Hancock, and also in the open swamps that line your walking trails. And no, there is no barrier between you and them—this is raw nature at its best! It’s safe, for the most part, as long as you don’t do anything stupid and make sure to keep your distance if you happen to spot one of our reptilian friends on your walk. There are even signs on the trail advising tourists to turn and go another way if a gator happens to be laying on the walking trail. Visitors are warned to not attempt to walk around the gator. The scary thing about that to me is that you know that sign is there because somebody at some point was dumb enough to try. Oh, and by the way, gators can outrun us, so don’t think for a minute that you have the upper hand because of your big ole human brain. If, despite your best efforts, one does take a shine to you, this guy seems to have some pretty good gator attack and avoidance advice: Israel Dupont; Living With Alligators. I heard a rumor somewhere that you can always try to sit on their back and clamp their mouth shut, at which point they are rendered helpless. Er…no thanks, I’ll pass…

Look Closely–On the left-ish side of the photo, you’ll spot a baby alligator, covered in green swamp muck!

Just to let you in on a little Florida Insider information—here in our state, if you see a standing body of water anywhere, including lakes, rivers, drainage ditches, swimming pools and bathtubs, it’s best to just assume there’s a gator in it, because chances are, there is. This little fella moved into the small pond just a few yards away from my house last Spring. I named him Al.

Al, The Neighborhood Gator

For serious nature enthusiasts, there is much, much more to Circle B than just alligators. The reserve’s website boasts of a “tremendous bird population, including a variety of wading birds, waterfowl, ospreys and bald eagles”. For butterfly lovers like me, there are several gorgeous fluttering specimens which may be observed in their natural habitat as well.

And they’re friendly  too…

As if all of this wasn’t enough, the reserve has a very nice, air conditioned Nature Discovery Center which is open Tuesday – Saturday 9AM -4PM and Sunday Noon-4PM. There you’ll find lots of educational information and exhibits, as well as friendly folks who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Florida wildlife and wetlands!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit this Florida treasure! You’ll probably want to leave your mouse ears back at the hotel though. I can just hear it now…

Lounging Gator #1: Hey Fred, juicy giant rodent at 3:00!

Lounging Gator #2: You can have him George, that last one gave me heartburn…

Oh, and one more thing…PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED at the Circle B, for obvious reasons!