Whoever thought in Florida when the Spanish arrived in 1513 that Kissimmee would become a dot on the world map as a focus for international entertainment and then become the destination for thousands who seek the thrills of a lifetime created by Walt Disney. Orlando takes credit for international imagination when it comes to entertainment but Kissimmee, it's next door buddy, once was the center of activity and that was long before Walt Disney came along. Originally, it was the Jororo native American tribe and the language used by them to name "long water" (Kissimmee) for the Jororo life style in the Kissimmee valley region. Only about 350,000 natives inhabited Florida in those early times but it was enough to bring Kissimmee as a river port to a life of its own where riverboats, turpentine manufacturing and river trade from Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee along the Kissimmee River was their modern day focus. It wasn't until the mid or late 18th Century the Seminole Indians, the Creeks and other native peoples settled there because with swampland they could more easily defend their native American positions. Today, home for the World Food Truck Park, it's the only centralized food truck park in Florida with multiple food trucks, located at 5805 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy and also home for Visitor's Flea Market, indoor, air conditioned and with more than 200 retail shops and booths. No real settlement of Kissimmee occurred until after the Civil War in 1865 when northerners, southerners and Canadians began the attempt to tame these wild lands. Its own development precedes Disney World imagination when in 1881 there were 4 million acres at 25 cents per acre purchased from the State of Florida by Hamilton Disston. He dredged a canal and widened waterways between Lake Tohopekaliga and Lake Okeechobee to provide swampland drainage for the Kissimmee River Valley. He built Allendale for his headquarters. Allendale by 1884 was renamed Kissimmee City and became a center for trade and commerce. In 1882, Sanford trains were connected to Kissimmee and by 1885 to Tampa. Kissimmee Hotel (originally Tropical Hotel), was built, the largest hotel below Jacksonville, where celebrities stayed, including President Chester Arthur. A drop in riverboat trade, brought on by railroad expansion, came about over the years and most of the riverboats were gone from the Kissimmee River by 1920. The Great Depression of 1929 challenged much of its growth but in 1887 Osceola County was created. The courthouse, built in 1890, is the oldest existing one, in Florida. Electricity also came about in 1890, costing $7.50 a month.
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