The city of Okeechobee is the county seat of Okeechobee located on the northern shore of Lake Okeechobee. Okeechobee is the Seminole word for “Big Water,” and no other name could be more appropriate for the lake.
About The Community
Okeechobee County itself was created from parts of Osceola, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Counties in 1917. Okeechobee City was laid out earlier in 1914, by FEC Railroad Engineers for the Okeechobee Company, a branch of the Florida East Coast Railway. Okeechobee City was originally called “Tantie” after settler Tantie Huckabee. The city encompasses 5 square miles and has diverse population of approximately 6000 people.
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The area is an ideal retreat from urban pressures and one can revel in the clean unpolluted air and get close to nature here. Centrally located in the heartland of Florida, the major Florida attractions and beaches are within an hour drive. Since the early 1900’s, the area around Lake Okeechobee has been the seat of agriculture and even today farming, citrus, cattle ranches, dairy, and fishing are the most important occupations. Okeechobee County is historically known for its cattle ranches and the dairies rank among the largest in the United States.
The locals are proud of their rich heritage and are keen to preserve the cultural, agricultural, and natural heritage of this rural Florida community. Families have been in the dairy, beef, cattle, citrus and fishing industry for a hundred years. The local cannery, which shut down only a few years ago, had been in operation since the Civil War! The annual festivals and cultural activities throughout the year celebrate the heritage of the Okeechobee area and preserve the quaint atmosphere of the community.
Vicinity of Okeechobee
The downtown area of Okeechobee is steeped in history and has structures that are over a hundred years old. The site of Colonel Taylor’s Christmas Party, where future President Zachary Taylor fought the Seminole Chief Billy Bowlegs in 1837 is near by. The current Okeechobee Courthouse dates from 1926. Do not miss the historic railroad station. It is, even today, the only Amtrak stop in South Central Florida and the Lake Okeechobee area.
Okeechobee County’s first jail, located in the city was built in the early 1900’s. The Okeechobee Historical Society Museum & Schoolhouse is the site for a collection of historical materials. The one-room schoolhouse was built in 1907 and used as a school until 1916. The first high school was built in 1926 and the mural on the gymnasium wall, the Okeechobee Freshman Campus Historical Mural, depicts the early settlers to the area.
Beef and cattle have been the greatest contributors to the local economy. The Okeechobee Livestock Market built in 1937 by the Cattlemen’s Association was Florida’s largest livestock market Even today the Okeechobee County Cattlemen’s Association presents two professional rodeo events every year. The Okeechobee Lake is famous for its bass and the area is well known for its native wildlife and vegetation of this sub-tropical habitat. Bird lovers may be fortunate to spot many endangered species like the Snail Kite, Purple Gallinule, and Limpkin.