Now we get to the final major stop on this trip, the DeSoto County seat, Arcadia.
I’d been looking forward to visiting Arcadia for years, ever since I first learned about the place. It sounded so rustic and it was in an area of the state I’d never been, though I’d been near-ish to it a number of times. It’s about 30 miles west of Lake Placid, so every time I went to or from Miami on US 27, I could have easily gotten there. The first time I visited, though, was unintentional. and Mom’s fault.
We were on our last trip south together in February 2010. Didn’t know that at the time, since Mom was feeling good, as she had for most of the year and a half since the diagnosis. Thank you, Hospice. It wasn’t until over a week later that she finally took a turn for the worse and had to go into a Hospice House, where she passed a month later. No, not a clue the end was so close. So we thoroughly enjoyed this trip.
My original plan was to get to Bartow around dawn, drive down to Zolfo Springs, then over to Sebring and up US 27 back home. But we made better progress than expected, and got to Zolfo Springs around 1 PM. I mentioned to Mom how I wanted to see Arcadia, but didn’t want to detour that far from my plans. She asked how close it was and I wasn’t sure. I thought about 30 miles. She said that since we had a good amount of daylight left (it was cold with clear skies all the way), why not go to Arcadia? Thing is, I didn’t have any maps of Arcadia with me, since I’d not expected to go there. But somehow Mom convinced me to deviate from my plans. I mean, I did want to go, and why argue with her, since things were going so swimmingly. So we headed down US 17. Then I saw a road sign saying it was only 20 miles to Arcadia, so we were in better shape than I thought.
There’s only one NRHP in DeSoto County, and it’s Arcadia itself. Much of the downtown and surrounding environs is a historic district. Since I had no map that first trip, I had to go with estimating the boundaries from memory. I knew the courthouse was in the district, so I went there. Also stopped at the nearby Chamber of Commerce, but it was closed. (see Google map)
- J. L. Jones Building (10-14 North DeSoto Ave) (AGFHA)
- DeSoto County Courthouse (115 East Oak Street)
- Courthouse Annex (201 East Oak St) (AGFHA)
- DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce Building (16 South Volusia Ave.)
Then we went downtown. I parked and walked around, taking pictures all over. Yeah, I left Mom in the car, but that was SOP on all our trips. I never stayed away long, not more than a half hour. She was fine when I got back. Probably the thing I liked best was the Arcade-Koch Building, which looked like something you’d find on Miami Beach. I drove around a bit more and took some pictures of houses I thought were within the district. When I got home and checked, I found out I was right.
I’ve been back to Arcadia twice since, with maps and additional information. Once down US 17 again and passing through, the other from the west on SR 70 and stayed the night. The second time I crossed the Peace River, then went north so I could see the old Peace River Bridge, which is in AGFHA. Also visited the local cemetery, where some WWII British soldiers are buried. Each time I was in Arcadia, I went to downtown and parked where I had the first time. I’d sit a bit and remember the good times Mom and I had, and thanked TPTB for helping her feel good for so long so I could have those extra memories of her and me on the road together. (see Google map)
- Old Peace River Bridge (1100 West Hickory Street) (AGFHA)
- Arcadia Historic District (Roughly bounded by Lee and Miles Avenues, Imogene, Cypress, Pine, and Magnolia Streets) (NRHP)
- British Plot memorial (North Lee Ave and Livingston St.)
- William Oswell Ralls House (640 West Whidden Street) (NRHP)
- DeSoto County High School (320 Whidden Street) (AGFHA)
- Old St. Edmund’s Church (West Hickory St and Manatee Ave) (AGFHA)
- J.J. Heard Opera House Block (102-112 West Oak St) (AGFHA)
- Arcade-Koch Building (101-115 West Oak St) (AGFHA)
- W.E. Daniels Building (20-24 West Oak St) (AGFHA)
- William Seward Building (10 West Oak St) (AGFHA)
- Daniel Carlton Building (2-8 West Oak St) (AGFHA)
- Atlantic Coastline RR Depot (101 South DeSoto Ave) (AGFHA)
- Arcadia City Hall (121 West Hickory Street) (AGFHA)
- First Baptist Church (31 North Polk Ave) (AGFHA)
After Arcadia, we went east on SR 70 to US 27 and north. Really liked this part of the trip, since it was 30 miles of straight open road and little traffic through mostly ranches. We’d be like, “Look at all the moo-cows!” She was 83 and I was almost 50 and that’s right, we said moo-cows. If we felt like acting like 12-year olds, we felt no shame in doing so. If more folks would let themselves be less uptight more often, I think the world would be a better place. It worked pretty well for Mom and me.
If you go west, you can get to Sarasota or Bradenton, but they’re both about an hour’s drive. An hour south will get you to Fort Myers. The nearest large city is Punta Gorda, which is about a half hour away southwest down US 17. About halfway there is the town of Fort Ogden. More than a road sign, since it has an actual post office. In front of which is a historical marker about the town. Go north up the road behind the post office and you’ll find a few reminders of the past. There’s a small cemetery and an old school, for example. There may be more; drive around some if you have a mind to. Won’t take long, since there’s not much of Fort Ogden. (see Google map)
- Fort Ogden Historical Marker (in front of post office)
- Ziba King Family Cemetery (Ziba King Memorial Recreation Park (6895 SW Georgia St.))
- Fort Ogden Cemetery
- old school (Hull Ave And River St)
That’s all for this ramble. More maudlin than most of the other posts, but this was the last problem-free trip I took with Mom, so I hope y’all understand. Until next time, then, see you on the road!
Route length: 80 miles