Located in south-west Florida on the edge of a chain of small islands called Ten Thousand Islands and connected to Everglades City’s mainland city by a causeway, you will find Chokoloskee.
Ten Thousand Islands is a maze of low-lying mangrove Islands; however, the island of Chokoloskee is a little different. Chokoloskee has a high point elevation reaching 20 feet above sea level. This height is due to the shell mounds left behind by the Island’s first settlers, the Native Americans. Chokoloskee is thought to have been home to the Calusa Indians some 2000 years ago.
The modern settlement of Chokoloskee began in 1874, and in 1897, when Ted Smallwood moved to Chokoloskee and became the Island’s major landholder, there were but 5 families that lived there.
In 1896, Ted Smallwood began carrying the mail by sailboat, and in 1906 he became Chokoloskee’s Postmaster and owner and operator of The Smallwood General Store. The store served as a trading post for the remote island, and it remained open until 1982.
In 1990 Ted’s granddaughter reopened the store as a museum, and today visitors to The Smallwood Store are treated to a glimpse into Florida’s Pioneer past.
The Smallwood Store sits right on the water’s edge, and although the Florida weather has taken its toll on the old historic building, it has survived no less than six hurricanes over the years.
John and I really got a kick out of our visit to this waterfront store that seemed to be frozen in time. We were immediately greeted by the storekeeper, who happily and enthusiastically began sharing stories of the store’s colorful history. As we walked along the old creeky and somewhat water warped wooden floor, John and I reminisced about the things in the store that we had seen as children in either a grandparent’s home or in our own homes growing up. John was particularly taken by an old JC Penney bicycle, and I by the old washtub used back in my grandmother’s day.
The shelves were full of items and goods that were popular in the early Florida Pioneer days. On the walls were historical artifacts giving visitors a glimpse of how early settlers earned a means of living in that time period. A document that I found interesting was the one pictured below depicting the prices paid for animal furs in 1911.
John and I found our visit to the Smallwood Store Museum to be a fascinating and fun addition to our Everglades City Adventure. If you like walking through authentic old places and seeing the common items used by your parents, grandparents, or even great grandparents, then we think you will like it too.
Hours, Admission, and Directions
The Smallwood Store Museum is open Dec-Apr/10 am-5 pm and May–Nov/11 am-5 pm. The admission price is $5.00 per person.
The physical address is 360 Mamie St. Chokoloskee, FL
Directions: From Interstate 75, take EXIT 80 south on SR29. Follow 29 thru Everglades City. 3 miles south of Everglades City on SR29 is Chokoloskee Island. On Chokoloskee, turn right @ 4way STOP sign onto Chokoloskee Drive, go one block to Mamie Street, turn left and follow the road to the end.
Follow our Journey
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