Florida’s forests are important to our industrialized nation. Longleaf pines are the trees of choice here as they can grow quickly straight and create about 5,000 different products from trusses for your home to toilet paper. In 1965, Congressman Don Fuqua commemorated the history of Florida forestry, declaring Taylor County, Florida “The Tree Capitol of the South” with over 525,000 acres of forested land. The Florida state park system built the museum to honor the achievement.
This unique Florida state park is home to an octagon shaped museum that is built using beautiful pine and rare peck cypress as a homage to the many beautiful species of wood that are in Florida forests. The entire dome is covered in glass, allowing you to really get a natural look at this awesome architectural dwelling made from Florida wood.
Inside the museum at Forest Capitol Museum State Park are dioramas and displays explaining the history of Florida crackers who produced turpentine to seal ships hulls against leaking waters. A large display of antique turpentine tools are on display as well as many native area animal taxidermies. The lifecycle of the forest are displayed in interpretive photographs and illustrations.
A large map, carved entirely from wood depicts the entire state of Florida. Each County is hand carved from a native species of wood to each area. It is an amazing work of art to say the least. And don’t forget to visit “Terry the Talking Tree”; he breaks it all down for the kids!
Next door to the fantastic octagon museum is the interpretive exhibit. An authentic Florida cracker home built in 1864 from hand hewn logs and clay and straw fireplaces. It was donated to the park in 1973 by Senator Pete Gibson and family. Period furniture, clothing and artifacts of all kinds are on display in the cracker house.
The home is designed to show visitors what life was like for these Florida crackers. The term cracker comes from the sound that their long bull whips would make as they drove cattle across the pastures of Florida.
Three covered picnic pavilions are available for rent for family gatherings, cooperate events or birthday parties at the park for just $30. These pine shaded pavilions each come complete with a grill and seating for up to 60 people. Call (850)584-3227 for more information on reservations.
For information on driving directions, fees and hours of operations, visit the Forest Capitol Museum State Park website here.