Florida Photo Archives - Pliocene four-tusked mastodon
Serridentinus and aquatic rhinoceros Teleoceras
Seven thousand years before the birth of Christ,
Native Americans were mining the limestone formations on Little
Gator Creek for chert, a flintlike stone they chipped into tools.
These early people lived by hunting small and large animals and
gathering wild plants.
The climate was much drier than today, the portion
of the Florida peninsula above sea level was much larger, and the
springs, lakes, rivers, and wetlands that greeted Spanish explorers
nonexistent. Instead there were open grassy prairies, scrub oaks,
and pine forests. Water holes were critical to the survival of both
the people and the animals-mammoths, horses, and bison-they hunted.
At Little Gator Creek, archeologists have found spear points,
knives, hammerstones, and flakes from the tool making process
spanning 7000 years.
All the virgin longleaf and slash pine were
harvested on the area in 1903 and 1904. In 1928-34, a naval stores
operation was conducted, and turpentine "faces" are still visible
on many of the trees. A second pine tree harvest occurred in 1939,
and bald cypress was harvested in 1949 and 1955.
Florida Department of State
Until 1970 when the practice of cattle grazing was
discontinued, prescribed burning was conducted on a regular 2-year
cycle. Burning was conducted irregularly after that until state
purchase in 1982. A limerock mining operation adjacent to the
property controlled both the quantity and the quality of water
entering the area. Water control structures were installed by the
previous owner to direct water to the cypress swamp containing the
wood stork rookery.
In 1982 the area was purchased under the
Conservation and Recreation Lands Program from C.M. Overstreet, a