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A bee gathers nectar from purple flowers. A Gulf Fritallary lights on a purple flower. Now open land, this site was once home to Fort Chokonikla, built in 1849 following a Seminole attack on the local trading post. Several nature trails introduce visitors to various natural communities ideal for birding and botanical exploration.
Paynes Creek Historic State Park
A white ibis wades through the water at Payne's Creek Historic State Park.

History and Culture

In the decade following the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), tension between settlers and Seminole Indians prompted Federal authorities to establish a trading post in Florida's interior. The Kennedy-Darling Trading Post was built on the northern end of the Seminole reservation, easy for the Seminoles to reach, but away from settlements. The trading post, constructed in the spring of 1849, was attacked and destroyed in July of that year by renegade Seminoles. Reports of the attack motivated the U.S. Army to establish a chain of fortifications across the Florida peninsula. This line of forts across the northern boundary of the Seminole reservation was intended to protect the settlers to the north and provide bases for the Army to control the Seminoles. Work began on Fort Chokonikla, the first in the chain, on October 26, 1849. The fort was built on high ground near the former trading post. The Seminoles did not want war and the fort never came under attack. Casualties, however, were high and the Army was nearly defeated by disease-carrying mosquitoes. In July 1850, due to sickness among troops, Fort Chokonikla was abandoned and never reoccupied. In 1978, the Fort Chokonikla site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The state acquired the land containing the Monument, Trading Post and Fort Chokonikla in 1974. The park, now 410 acres, opened to the public in 1981. Although nothing remains of the fort or the trading post, visitors can learn about the history of these at the park's Visitor Center.

A cannon is on display in the park Visitor Center, where other exhibits introduce visitors to 19th century life on the Florida frontier.

Visitor Center

The Visitor Center has dioramas and displays that depict how Florida's pioneers and Seminole Indians lived during the early to mid-1800s. Video programs, shown on weekends and holidays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m, provide insight into frontier life at Fort Chokonikla and the events that led to the Third Seminole War (1855-58). The Visitor Center is open 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily.

This monument honors Captain George Payne and Dempsey Whiddon, who were killed during a Seminole Indian attack on the local trading post in 1849.

Monument

Visitors interested in Florida history will enjoy this park. Historic sites here include the Fort Chokonikla (chok-o-neek-la) site, the Kennedy-Darling Trading Post site (visible from a special overlook along Paynes Creek) and the monument site erected in honor of Captain George S. Payne and Dempsey Whiddon, clerks killed at the trading post during a Seminole attack.

A bridge spans Payne Creek.

Suspension Bridge

A suspension bridge spans Payne Creek.

Payne's Creek and the Peace River offer canoeists and kayakers many peaceful scenes.

Paynes Creek

Paynes Creek and the Peace River provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The Peace River is split by tiny islands and joined by numerous creeks. Anglers can fish for bass, bream, catfish or snook from canoe or kayak in the Peace River or along its banks.

A playground invites children to play while a picnic table awaits.

Playground

Picnic tables and a nearby playground make the park an ideal location for small and large groups to share a meal. Pavilions that seat up to 40 people are available for rent.