In the 1700s, Seminole Indians emigrated from the Creek Confederacy to Florida. Three wars took place to remove the Seminoles from Florida and send them to reservations. During the Third Seminole War, the Seminoles resisted and retreated to the swamps of southwest Florida. Soldiers searching for the Indians drew maps. One crude 1857 military map illustrates the Blackwater River with an area labeled `palm grove'. That area, now a part of the park, contains the beautiful royal palm trees. In the early 1920s, advertising tycoon and pioneer developer, Barron Collier purchased nearly a million acres in southwest Florida. In 1923, it became Collier County. The park was created to preserve the royal palm trees. The park served as a memorial to Barron Collier and those who fought on both sides of the Seminole Wars. In 1947, the county donated the land, which became Collier-Seminole State Park.
The Seminole and Miccosukee Indian tribes successfully resisted removal from Florida in the mid-1800s and remained in the area. When the Tamiami Trail opened in 1928, many Seminoles moved their villages along the highway to take advantage of the new economic opportunities.
It was said that a highway across the Everglades could not be built, but Barron Gift Collier came down to southwest Florida and found a way to complete it in 1928. He set aside this park for people to rest and enjoy the wilderness. The Bay City Walking Dredge now sits quietly in the park, near the highway that it helped construct many years ago. People have come here to see the dredge and learn about the construction of Tamiami Trail.
This park is one of only three places in Florida where majestic royal palms grow naturally. Barron Collier recognized this habitat and set it aside for preservation. In the center of the park is a memorial honoring Collier.
Collier-Seminole State Park looks much different today than in the past, due to quick growing tropical foliage. Hurricanes also shape the landscape, but plants grow back to quickly fill in the gaps. The tropical hardwoods will continue to grow, even when knocked down by a storm. Dense growth in the interior of the hammock regulates water and temperatures throughout the seasons.