Buying Swampland in Florida

Picayune Strand was logged for cypress trees in the 1940s and 1950s. When the logging was done, the land was purchased by developers and drained for the construction of what was intended to become the largest subdivision in the world. This area became the setting for the infamous "swampland in Florida" scam. Potential buyers were shown the land from the air during the dry season, and many lots were sold to people who never saw their land from the ground. Few homes were built in the subdivision named "Golden Gate Estates" created by the Gulf American Land Corporation due to the lack of electricity and high summer water levels.

Golden Gates Brochure.jpg

It's pretty interesting to drive on roads built for this development which was a scam as the buyers never saw the land and other than flying over it during the dry season. I've driven the area which is pretty vast and recently drove it during rainy season. Fortunately I'm experienced in off-road driving from my years in Colorado and was able to navigate through some very wet areas. I was happy to make it through and won't do that drive again until the rainy season passes.

The photo below is what would have been one of the streets people bought land on. Obviously they would have been very unhappy to see what they had actually purchased. There are still street signs along these roads and if I recall correctly this would have been 50th Street.

golden gates.jpg

By the 1970s, it was obvious that the extensive canal system was having an adverse effect on the natural communities of Picayune Strand and associated ecosystems, including Faka-Union Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands area. Soon after, state and federal agencies identified the need to restore the hydrology of Picayune Strand and began to develop a plan to achieve this goal. The first parcels of land in Picayune Strand were purchased in 1985 using Conservation and Recreation Lands funds under the Save Our Everglades program. This was an incredibly complex undertaking as it involved acquiring land from 17,000 landowners. In 1998, the federal government gave $25 million in aid to the state of Florida to help bring the land acquisitions to a completion. The Picayune Strand State Forest was officially named in May 1995.

It's important to note that there is a very livable Golden Gates Estates that is on higher ground and popular with folks that prefer less crowded neighborhoods than nearby Naples.

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