Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday at Highlands

Tuesday January 22, 2013
Site 97 Highlands Hammock State Park
Sebring Florida



It’s another CCC Park

Those of you who have been following us for a while know that David is very interested in the Civilian Conservation Corps.  We both think it was a great idea of President Roosevelt to put young men to useful work and help lift their families out of poverty.  Highland’s Hammock has an excellent museum devoted to the CCC and its era.


We walk over to the museum taking the nice boardwalk from the campground. 

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The museum is housed in the former CCC Recreation Hall.  Built of course by the boys of the CCC.   And most of them were boys, ages 18 to 25.

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The museum has this 1930’s banner just inside the door.  There are displays about the era prior to the great depression, about the depression, the creation of the CCC and the work done by so many from 1934 to 1941.


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This area is dedicated to Roosevelt’s fireside chats which began on the Sunday after he took office.  In them he explained his plans for moving the country out of the depression.  He gave the people hope and tried mainly to calm their fears.   Sometimes I feel that now days the politicians and the media try to create fear in the people not security.  It is nice to sit in the big chair, push the button on the radio and listen to Roosevelt as citizens did 80 years ago.

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This map has a red pin designating every camp in the nation.  The men were paid $30 a month for their work as well as provided with  educational opportunities to learn to read and earn a high school education.  All but $5 of their pay was sent home to their families.   We are amazed at the number of camps all around the country which built  bridges, roads, parks and helped out in many ways this country could use today.

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We are able to see movies of the men working in the camps.  To see pictures of their barracks, mess hall and recreation hall as well as samples of the tools, clothing and furnishings they used.  Their lives had a strict routine as you can see in this poster.  Click to read how their day went.


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After we have finished looking at all the excellent exhibits and information, there is a 15 minute film with interviews of surviving CCC boys now in their 80’s talking about how they came to be in the corps, what it meant to their families and to their lives.

This is an excellent little museum and well worth a visit.



Time to get back outside and enjoy the beautiful day.


In front of  the building there is very fine statue. 

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Across from the museum is the Hammock Inn which is a small restaurant housed in what was the CCC Mess Hall built of course by the men.  Both the museum and the Inn are in excellent shape today.  They were built to last.  

The Inn serves both Sour Orange ice cream and sour orange cheese cake.   We’re hoping to share one of each sometime over the week-end.  But we didn’t really get the “sour orange” until later.


Between the two buildings is a large grassy area where the park has monthly Music in the Park during the Winter.  It occurs more often in the summer.  Unfortunately we just missed the January date and won’t be here for the February.

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Away from the buildings and into the woods.


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Behind the Hammock Inn is the trail head for the Wild Orange Grove Trail.   A wild orange grove???






The trail runs through a part of the 500 acre hardwood hammock, one of this park’s several habitats.


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It’s dark, swampy land -  jungle like.  In fact it is a semi-tropical jungle. 


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This area is very verdant.  Large numbers of a variety of ferns are growing everywhere.

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It’s true, oranges in the woods.

Along the trail we see the trail’s name sake tree.  But they sure don’t look like the orange trees in any groves I’ve seen.  They are tall and skinny trees.  The oranges are way up in the air.  No picking these without a pole picker.  Wild oranges.  Can you see them in this photo?

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We do pick up a couple from the ground but when we get them home we find that they are not nearly as sweet as our commercially grown oranges.  More like a cross between a grapefruit and an orange.  Not so sure about having that cheese cake or ice cream now.


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At the end of the trail, we decide we have the time and the energy for one more short one.



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We head across the road to the trail head for the Big Oak Trail.






Turns out it is a really short trail leading almost immediately to the Big Oak and then connecting on to several other trails.  We’ll stop here for today and come back to do the others on future days.


But right now we are awed by the size of this tree.  Its trunk instantly reminds us both of Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life and we wonder if it might have been the inspiration.


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We’ve been told the tree, which is sadly no longer alive, is over 1000 years old.   Imagine that.  This Laurel Oak was here in 1212.

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We start looking for the faces in this tree.  And we think we find some.  What do you think?


I’m referring to this as the Mount Rushmore section

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David calls this Owl Eyes.   Do you see either of those??

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The afternoon is waning and it’s time to walk back to the campground and get dinner started.  But there’s lots more to do in Highland Hammock.  We’ll take the tram ride tomorrow and there are 7 more trails to hike in our next 4 days here.  


  1. Looks like another fascinating place to explore. Didn't know it was a CCC park. We agree that these projects represent a high point in our country's history. Wish we had a similar program today. Have fun exploring!

  2. Those are some dark trails there, surprised you didn't run into Big Foot in those woods.

    Nice write up on the CCC, those men (boys) did amazing construction. Amazing that we enjoy the fruits of their labors even today.

  3. We could certainly use a CCC today. That ancient tree is an amazing old ent. You sure do find some gorgeous places to explore.

  4. I do see the faces in the tree. Too cool :)

  5. YOU guys find the most interesting places to visit!!! That CCC sounds like boot camp!!! Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood (near Portland) was built by CCC even the furniture inside... Still good to this day! A historical treasure...
    I remember Mom saying they used to listen to those chats by Roosevelt, no one had any idea he was crippled and on crutches... unlike today...

  6. I will be camping in site 14 Friday and Saturday night. We are hoping to take the tram ride on Saturday.Let us know about the sour orange ice cream. The last time I was there it was closed.

  7. I love the way Roosevelt communicated directly with the people. He talked to them on the radio (or even in person in many instances) and they decided what he said and what he meant. Now, the politicians speak to the media, which then translates what was said and what it meant. Where did we go wrong - probably with technology which gave us cable TV and more.

  8. Wow Sherry, fantastic post!! We need to add Highland Hammock to our list of places to check out. Great photos and good info. We also have picked oranges from wild orange trees and from deserted orange groves and the oranges are always "SOUR!!!" Let us know about the ice cream;o))

  9. Great post- another Florida park we need to visit.

  10. The CCC boys proved that things can be built to last ... something we can take a lesson from.

    I recognize the statue from Shenandoah NP ... they have a very similar one at the Big Meadow Visitor Center.

  11. Sherry you make me want to see a lot more of Florida. It is such an enjoyable post

  12. Super nice...just added to my Google - gotta go here" map :O)

  13. I have really appreciated all the work that the CCC did in my travels across the country. I'd surely enjoy that museum.

  14. What an interesting tree. Can definitely see the faces.

  15. The CCC was really an amazing program - definitely a high point in our nation's history. What a cool park and how amazing that there are so many CCC camps around the country back in the day! The wild oranges and that interesting tree are special finds - I love the nose, mouth and eyes. Neat place, nice post!


  16. Thanks for the tour ...... Enjoyed every twist and turn ..... Such a positive part of our history the CCC ....... The program did so much good all the way around ....... Love the 1212 TREE ....... Know the tram ride will open a lot of treasures .......Enjoy !!!!! And always THANKS for SHARING ......... SallyB

  17. Nice tour, it brought back good memories of our visit there:)


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