Winter is a fantastic time to visit Myakka River State Park. This time of year, offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities for most visitors. Stunning displays of ducks and wading birds are a rewarding experience. Groups of hundreds of white pelicans are seen daily in the lakes and flamboyant roseate spoonbills and black bellied whistling ducks are common in wetlands and the lake...
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Prior to 1850, the Myakka River was the Asternal River on English maps. A Seminole Indian reportedly told a surveyor in the 1850's that the name of the river was "Myakka". The translation of the word Myakka, is unknown. Between the 1850's and the 1930's, cattle grazed on dry prairie, a vast land of grasses, forbs, palmetto and other low shrubs with thousands of scattered wetlands. In 1910, Bertha Palmer, a progressive business woman from Chicago, came to Sarasota and bought a vast amount of land. Meadow Sweet Pastures which was located very near the Myakka River was one of her purchases. (Visit Ranch House Road inside the park for more information about the Palmers). In 1918, Mrs. Palmer passed away. In the 1930's, during the Great Depression, over 17,000 acres of the Palmer estate was purchased by the government to develop Myakka River State Park as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal. The New Deal was intended to boost the economy and spirit of the American population during these dark years. More than 5 million young men around the country were employed to help preserve our natural areas. This employment allowed them to earn money to send home to their families. Myakka is one of 8 Florida State Parks developed by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the 1930's. When the United States entered World War 2, the CCC was disbanded as all efforts were needed for the war. Myakka River State Park was formally dedicated in 1941 and was officially opened for the public. Many of the CCC structures built in Myakka are still used today. The Visitor Center, two picnic pavilions, 5 rental log cabins and roads are just a few of the things which are still enjoyed by visitors.