I couldn’t wait to use this attention grabber to start today’s blog. The big old boy (girl? don’t know how to tell, yet) certainly grabbed our attention as we meandered along the pathway at the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island just off Florida’s west coast. We Iowa folks instantly recognize Ding Darling’s name; the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Des Moines Register for nearly 50 years. His biggest joy and contribution was doing wildlife and conservation work starting in the 1920s and continuing through out his life. This refuge is a great testament to that life work.
The rich and famous have been attracted to Florida’s climate and scenery for decades, going back to the 1880s. Two of the most recognizable names associated with this particular area are Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, both incredible pioneers in the technical advancement of the country and the world. Edison bought his first property here in the late 1890s from a cattle rancher and built his home and a working laboratory. He was joined not long after by his friend and fellow industrialist, Henry Ford. Ford had hired Edison to work on a generator for his Model T and the two become friends for life.
Thomas Edison home, left, and Henry Ford home, right. Edison’s laboratory and his poured concrete swimming pool (the first in Florida) are also on the site.All beautifully maintained and preserved, only feet from the ocean. Cathy is thrilled with the bird life of this area and is enjoying the camaraderie of being with her cousin, Paula Senger and her hubby, Ken. They have been incredible hosts!
This is ONE banyan tree (and only part of it is in the picture), billed as the largest of its species in North America. Edison was a great student of botany as well as inventor (1193 patents!) and imported trees for all of the world. He tested them all to see if they would possibly yield sap to produce rubber for automobile tires, so rubber would not have to be imported. However, none of them were successful for that purpose.
Tomorrow we part company with these wonderful hosts and head toward more “gator country”, the Magnificent Everglades.