There is a small village or you might say a crossroads in southwestern Florida called Nocatee. It is not to be confused with the newly built master-planned community of the same name in northeast Florida. The original Nocatee is located in DeSoto County in southwest Florida. It is a Seminole Indian word that means, “What is it?” It is an interesting place to visit although you will not find a place to stay for the night. There are no motels with distinct styles of deluxe guest rooms and suites. It’s defiantly a day tripper when visiting Nocatee. A Mediterranean atmosphere with tropical pools and lush grounds will not be found in this village. Nocatee offers more of a Florida cracker type ambience. There are no beaches, but you could bring your bathing suit and swim at the county owned boat ramp down at nearby Peace River.
If you are interested in playing golf while visiting Nocatee, you can’t. Golfing will have to take place up the road in Arcadia which is the county seat. Or you could go eight miles south of Nocatee to Sunny Breeze Golf Club.
If shopping is your thing, you are in luck. Just five miles up the road in Arcadia again there are several stores to choose from. And you can venture down Arcadia’s old Oak Street in the antique district.
On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley passed directly through Nocatee with winds which persisted for an hour, damaging most of the structures in the burg and causing some to be completely destroyed. You can still find many buildings with the blue FEMA tarps still protecting the roofs.
Actually, the most interesting thing about Nocatee is not what is there now but what use to be there. I know of one person who said he was from Nocatee. The King Lumber Company founded in the late 1800’s was the main industry and the largest employer in DeSoto County. It eventually became the Nocatee-Manatee Crate Company until it closed in 1951. The First settler was the Carlton family. Baptist and Methodist churches were founded there in 1890. There was once a stump plant which employed many people until it close in the 1980s.
DeSoto County was initially a much bigger county and later subdivided to create five smaller counties in 1921. There was an election to figure out where the DeSoto County seat should be. Nocatee lost by one vote. Nocatee has never had much population to speak of. It’s pretty much maintained the same size since 1900. It’s never been an actual incorporated town.
Sadly, Nocatee doesn’t have much of a tourist draw but there is an interesting Civil War history in the county. For the paleontologist the county lies in what is known as bone valley. It’s a phosphate rich area where many mastodon bones can be found.
For more information about the village of Nocatee, Florida visit DeSoto County Florida online. Also check out Howard Melton’s book, “Foot Prints & Landmarks which gives the interesting history of Nocatee and DeSoto County. You may also visit Arcadia’s antique district online. Better yet, take the opportunity and come visit us.