Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kroeshan State Park

Koreshan State Park 

Our bus for this trip was 


1977 VW Westfalia Deluxe

Inside this groovy girl you will find a two burner gas stove, sink with on-board water tank. Two double beds, one up stairs and one downstairs. These rentals are stocked with everything you need for camping. Fly into our local airport with your personal items and take the road less traveled. Slow down and enjoy the view. In-fact we are very proud of our state parks, beaches and amusement parks. Florida has it all! So choose the unique way to travel, because the best view is one from a bay window bus.

Autumn on an adventure...

The top pops to reveal a bed upstairs. It is like sleeping in a tree house. Sleeping up stairs you can fall asleep while looking at the stars. The second bed is downstairs. The z bed makes out into a double bed. These buses sleep up to four people. All sheets, blankets, pillows, pots, pans, place setting, chairs, rugs, towels, beach towels, head lamps, flash light, garbage can, etc. are included. Everything you need for a great camping trip.

Check out the website to book your next road-trip with Florida Odscool Campers!

Kroeshan State Park
3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero, Florida 33928
(239) 992-0311

The rangers LOVE vintage VW Buses too!!
We arrived at the park with Autumn. The Ranger joined us outside to admire the bus and tell us about their antique car show. We will have to make another trip to see the show.

To create your unique vacation in one of our vintage buses go to the website for more information

Once you approach the ranger station and pay the $5 fee or if camping you will pull to the side and enter in through the back. They offer fire wood, ice, and a drink machine. Canoe rentals are available at the boat ramp.  Visitors can take self-guided tours of the settlement or a ranger guided tour. For overnight stays, the park has a full-facility campground. Campers can enjoy campfire programs every Saturday night from January through march. 
On November 17, 1903 they left Chicago with a 15 train-car loaded with possessions and equipment. 
Among the tons of goods they brought, which had to be transported by boat and wagon, were elegant furniture, linens, dishes, flatware, and home decorations. The luggage included an 1885 Steinway piano which is valued at over $200,000. It is a special commemorative instrument with only 85 keys, symbolizing the year of its manufacture. It still stands at Koreshan State Historic Site. 
Male and female live in separate quarters, with the exception on Koresh. 
Large robustly built, and elegantly furnished. The stylish "La Parita" was built on the south end of Estero Island for Cyrus Teed and his personal guest. This grand, two story complex was the site of beach parties, picnics, and outings. Visitors arrived in elaborate, shallow boats that the Koreshans built for local transportation as there were no roads. They often picniced and swam on Big Hickory Island off Lover's key.

Throughout its history,
Florida has welcomed pioneers of all kinds...

Cyrus Reed Teed   a young physician was probably the most unusual, bringing followers to Estero in 1894 to build New Jerusalem for his new faith, Koreshanity. The colony, known as the Koreshan Unity believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere. The colony began fading after Teed's death in 1908, and in 1961 the last four members deeded the land to the state. Today, visitors can fish, picnic, boat, and hike where Teed's visionaries once carried out survey experiments to prove the horizon on the beaches of Collier County curves upward. 

In autumn 1869 (ironically since our bus is named Autumn) Teed was conducting an experiment and was badly shocked and passed out. While unconscious, Teed believes he was visited by a divine spirit who told him that he was the messiah. Inspired, once he awoke he vowed to apply his scientific knowledge to "redeem humanity." He promptly changed his first name to "Koresh" the Hebrew word for Cyrus. He denounced the idea the Earth revolved around the sun and instead pioneered his own theory of the Universe, know as the 'Cellular Cosmogony' according to his theory human beings live on the inside of the planet, not the outside. The sun is a giant battery-operated contraption and the stars mere refractions of its light.

"New Jerusalem" is what Teed called his town in Estero. The 'golden age' for the community was 1903-1908, when they had over 250 residents and incorporated Estero. They built extensively, establishing a bakery, printing house (published their newspaper and other publications), their "World College of Life", a general store, concrete works, power plant (which supplied power to the surrounding area years before ti was available elsewhere in the region) and more. The colony was extensively landscaped with exotic tropical plants. They tried to run several candidates for county government against the local Democratic Party but were never successful. 

Damkohler House 1882

When Dr Teed arrived
 the Damkohler House, it 
was the only building.
It was built in 1882 
and donated by 
Gustav Damkohler, 
a homesteader from Germany. 
It was used for
living and dining until 
other buildings could be 

The property today included 305 arcres on the Estero River.

Every Kroeshan was expected to work for the benefit of the settlement. And work hard, they did! The cement plant, which produce statuary and urns, was ran by the Koreshan women, as was the laundry with its high-speed dryer that rotated 2,000 revolutions per minute. The bakery had its own cookhouse, with wood fed into the ovens from outside. Not only did the Koreshans bake delicious white, honey-wheat and chocolate bread, they made their own charcoal. 

When they transported their settlement from Chicago they brought the printing press. They produced a weekly newspaper "The American Eagle". 

A 2 cycle Fairbanks Morris diesel engine, and massive alternator, which was used to generate electricity. Thomas Edison visited the settlement to investigate how the Koreshans generated electricity, but whereas they used AC (alternating current), Edison favored DC (direct current) and they had a falling out over this.
When I booked this campground, I was aware it was historic site, but I never expected an entire village. I was very impressed with the care that has been taken to restore the history. We road our bikes up at dusk and knew we would have to return the next morning to see the entire town. 
The Koreshan tried to run several candidates for county government against the local Democratic Party but were never successful. Teed was involved in an alternative between Fort Myers men and members of the Unity. He was severely pistol whipped by Marshal Sanchez, suffering injuries from which he never recovered. He died two years later in 1908. After his death the group went into decline. 

Koreshantiy is a religion which was to supersede Christianity. Many of the women became followers because Teed taught equality of the sexes and races well in advance of the rest of the country. They also taught celibacy. Men and women lived separately, and children were raised communally. He taught the act of celibacy would create immortality. Of course it shot holes in that theory when he died. 

Teed died three days after Christmas in 1908. His followers propped him up in a tin bath on the Art Hall Stage, assuming he would resurrect himself after the customary three days and nights. Several days after Christmas, the Koreshans still remained hopeful. Finally the county health inspector said they had to do something.  They placed Teed's body in a mausoleum by the beach. They still thought he would come back, he was just being stubborn. They kept a 24 hour vigil at the mausoleum to greet him. The Koreshans didn't abandon hope of their leader's return until 13 years later when Cyrus Teed's body was washed away to sea by a hurricane. 

During the Great Depression, the community sold off a large portion of it's 7,500 acres. Advances in science, two world wars and the effects of celibacy gradually took their toll on the Kroeshan Unity. In 1962, two members remained and deeded the land to the state of Florida. The last Koreshan, Hedwig Michel died in 1982

In 1910 a hurricane destroyed his tomb on the southern end of Estero island and washed his coffin out to sea...

The colony was extensively landscaped with exotic tropical plantings. The settlers cultivated coconut palms, papaya, mangoes, pineapples and a rage of vegetables. Their preserves and jams were renowed and exported as far away as New York. The compound's German gardener befriended Edison's own German gardener and the two traded plants, ideas and techniques. Both properties contained many exotic plants. 

The grounds of the Koreshan Unity were beautifully landscaped. The sunken Gardens (since disappeared) were a popular feature, as was the Victorian Bridge (above) recently restored to its original glory. To avoid flooding from hurricane tides on the Estero River, the settlers dug canals all around their compound, so water would flow into these channels and not onto the property or into buildings.
The cement plant, which produce statuary and urns, was ran by the Koreshan women.
The Koreshans put on elaborately costumed plays and musical concerts. They invited the general public to their shows, which proved to be a popular entertainment and rare local source of culture. Koresh himself gave occasional public lectures, which his piercing eyes and resonant voice perhaps more captivating than his 2 hour discourses. The locals also benefited from the Koreshan Unity General Store, which sold their popular bread and preserves. 

We were lucky enough to find a volunteer woking on the steam engine. Mike was enlightened just how advanced this township was.

A 2 cycle Fairbanks Morris diesel engine, and massive alternator, which was used to generate electricity. Thomas Edison visited the settlement to investigate how the Koreshans generated electricity, but whereas they used AC (alternating current), Edison favored DC (direct current) and they had a falling out over this.

Huge tools for a huge steam engine
Big steam engines require big cooling towers!

An old can of beer sold at their general store on US41

The campground is heavily wooded. Nice trails to the bathroom. The campsites have a nice canopy and tree coverage but are close to the next. We also found the raccoons to be highly trained thieves and took off with half our dinner without us even knowing. We are experience campers, but these raccoons out smarted us!

Thanks for reading my bogger!  Please checkout my website at Florida VW Rentals

Dixie Phillips

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