If you love history then the Randell Research Center might be something for you to look into. Randell Research Center is apart of University of Florida. It is home to a 100+ acre Calusa Heritage Trail.
As we learn, we teach.
The Randell Research Center located in
located on Pine Island in Pineland, Florida and is centered in the historic
Ruby Gill house from the 1920’s. The Ruby Gill house is an appropriate headquarter
for the Randell Research Center because it was such a crucial part of Pineland’s
development and growth as a city. Ruby and her husband Percy Gill moved to
Pineland in and built the now historic house in 1922 after purchasing acres of
citrus groves. In 1925 Ruby became the town’s postmaster and had the post
office built right next to her house. Gill, also having been a member of Lee
County Electric Cooperative, was essential in having power get brought to
Pineland, bringing the city to life.
The research center is a program from
Florida’s Museum of Natural History and was officially established in 1996
after Donald and Patricia Randell graciously donated over fifty acres of the
Pineland archaeological site to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the
University of Florida. However, the University of Florida along with the museum
has been working in Pineland and their archaeology sites as far back as 1988.
The Randell Research Center may be
headquartered in a historic house, but the true reason to visit the center is
for its outdoor activities. The center is notorious for its 0.7-mile trail
where guides take you through the life and history of the Calusa. On the trail
you will be able to walk through canals, mounds, and many other historic archaeological
sites. You will not only learn about the Calusa’s culture, but also what life
in south west Florida was like after the Calusa left. Visitors will even be
able to climb to the top of the site’s largest shell mound on their viewing
platform. The trail also offers the opportunity to hold real native artifacts
and experience over 2000 years of preserved civilization.
For those wondering who the Calusa were
and why they play such an important part in Florida’s History; they were a
tribe of indigenous people date back well before Florida’s discovery by the
Spanish. They resided mostly on Florida’s south west coast and were sedentary
surviving mostly on a marine based diet. They were known for creating these
giant trash mounds called middens, and would become known as “Florida’s
mountains.” The Calusa even have the right to claim the arrow that eventually
killed Juan Ponce De Leon.
The Randell Research Center also holds
school tours and special events for visitors to consider and enjoy. For
example, March 25 is Calusa heritage day so the center will host a massive
event with guest speakers and exclusive new artifacts on site specifically for
the event. Visitors will be able to taste some shell fish based sea food in the
“Calusa’s Tastings” tent. You can also learn how to make baskets, twine, and
more! Between certain hours there will be exclusive boat tours presented by
If you are interested in visiting the
Randell Research Center, the trails open for self -guided visits from sunup to
sun down, however most buildings such as the gift shops and school is open from
ten in the morning till four in the afternoon. Guided tours are offered in
their peak season which is January through April, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and
Fridays at ten in the morning till one in the afternoon. If you are interested
in a tour not through those specific times you can always call and schedule a
guided tour at 239-283-2157.
The Randell Research Center offers a
plethora of great opportunities to dive into the history of south Florida and
get a firsthand experience of what life was like for the indigenous people in
the area so many call their home. If the trails sound like something you might
be interested in then perhaps you should look further into the Randell Research