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Wildwood in Sumter County, in The Villages metro area, strangely got its name. Around 1877, when telegraph wires were being laid in the area, a surveyor was asked by his office to state his exact location. He replied that he did not know where he was, except in the wild woods. Wildwood was settled around the same time by Isaac W. Barwick, a 25-year-old entrepreneur from Georgia who set up a lumbering operation. The early pioneers built a few stores, homes, and a town square and were mostly farmers. Most of the produce was for home consumption through some cotton was taken by ox carts to Silver Springs for shipment till 1882 when the Tropical Florida Railroad Company extended a line south from Ocala to Wildwood.
Wildwood developed slowly in the early twentieth century. The city hall was an eight-sided building called the Wigwam that also served as a public gathering place, skating rink, and recreation hall for the younger people in the city. Though the depression hit Wildwood hard like it did the rest of Florida, the reduction of taxes helped the city recover and it grew steadily till the fifties. Even when the railroad declined Wildwood continued its progress when Florida’s turnpike was completed in 1964. Far-sighted leaders built a shopping center there. Today Wildwood is most easily accessible by road and because of its centralized location and easy access to both coasts, it is often referred to as ‘The Crossroads of Florida’.
Vicinity of Wildwood
Wildwood is home to fewer than seven thousand people. Wildwood is less than 50 miles from Disney World, Sea World, and Silver Springs, and Orlando Airport. It also offers an Amtrak service. It is a friendly peaceful place and despite its easy accessibility is still very much a quiet small town. It is home to popular retirement communities that provide excellent facilities to people over 55 years old. Sumter County with its numerous inland water bodies offers numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation.
The local hotels include Wildwood Days Inn and Super 8. Wildwood KOA is a popular camping ground with a heated pool, mini-golf, and holiday potlucks. During the winter season, you will be entertained with live music and trips to local attractions. Wildwood’s claim to controversial fame is because of Buddy’s Bar-B-Q that is a stubborn hold out against Florida’s smoking ban. A gigantic ten foot long, five-foot-high fiberglass pig on its roof now has a PVC pipe painted like a cigarette sticking out of the pig’s ear that is connected to the restaurant’s cooking smoke. The restaurant’s slogan is ‘Home of the Smokin’ Pig!
Its excellent central location and abundance of wholesome recreational facilities have once again brought Wildwood into the focus as an area of potential growth. It is certainly a great place to live and raise a family.