Walking Tours of Downtown Fort Myers
By Gary McKechnie
If you go to downtown Fort Myers, you’ll get the sense there’s a lot of history around here - apparent considering that Thomas Edison’s winter home and laboratory sit right next door to Henry Ford’s winter estate. Then add to this the history and heritage of the Indian tribes that called this home thousands of years before European explorers even knew there was a New World. Amazing.
I speak about history often and I always remind my audience that history isn’t dates, it’s the story of people who create it. That’s why I was glad to learn that on the banks of the Caloosahatchee, walking tours of the Fort Myers’ Historic Downtown River District will be given twice a week between Jan. 4 - April 18. The tours begin at 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Southwest Florida Museum of History (the old Atlantic Coastline Railroad depot), last 90 minutes, cost $10 ($5 for students) and reveal the stories of the people that built the town.
Call me a dope, but I never connected the name of the town to the fact there was a fort here! A fort, and later, six main businesses fueled by a rivalry, and rows of historic buildings that have been restored and preserved.
If you’re a fan of Florida history, downtown Fort Myers is a perfect way to understand where we’ve been. To get where the tours are going, call ahead to reserve a spot (239-321-7430) then set aside some time to visit the museum. It's highlighted by a 1929 private Pullman railcar, a replica Cracker House, exhibits on prehistoric Florida (dig the 12-foot giant sloth!) and special exhibits as well. As always, there are always more features for you at VISIT FLORIDA.