By Mike Miller Updated March 12, 2023
Wauchula, Florida is a pretty little country town of about 5,000 people located on the Peace River and US Highway 17 in Hardee County.
It is the county seat and is about 50 miles east of the Bradenton -Sarasota area.
Hardee County is named for the 23rd Governor of Florida, Cary A. Hardee, who lived a good long life and died in 1957. He wasn't from the area, however, he was from Live Oak in North Florida.
He was a popular governor, but he may never have had the opportunity to travel to Wauchula.
The area around Wauchula was settled primarily to support Fort
Hartsuff, one of the many U.S. Army forts in Florida during the Seminole
When the Florida Southern Railway came to the area in 1886, they built a depot and named the town Wauchula.
According to Allen Morris's book "Florida Place Names", the name of the town was originally spelled WAUCHUTA. There are at least three interpretations of how the final name came about.
The town was incorporated in 1902, and the historic City Hall was built in 1926.
Like most of the old Florida towns along the Peace River, Wauchula depended heavily on the phosphate industry, free range cattle and orange groves.
Wauchula is the County Seat, and for many years has been called the "Cucumber Capital of the World".
These days watermelons and citrus are even more important to the local economy of Wauchula and the surrounding area.
One of the annual events in this area is the annual Desoto County watermelon festival in nearby Arcadia.
The City Hall and train depot are still standing, and are among the buildings and houses that give Wauchula its special brand of small town charm blended with history and heritage.
The First National Bank of Wauchula has been serving Wauchula residents since 1960 and has that good home town feel often lacking in the big chain banks.
The name of Carlton is prominent in Wauchula in ranching, banking and politics.
Doyle Elam Carlton was born in Wauchula and rose through state politics to become the 25th Governor of Florida.
His descendants have also been prominent in Florida politics and agriculture.
His son, Doyle E. Carlton, Jr., was a successful rancher and a Florida state senator for ten years. He also made a try for election as Governor of Florida.
Doyle E. Carlton, III, his grandson, is a prominent cattle rancher.
Wauchula still has a lot of Southern charm and a laid back lifestyle.
It is just far enough from the glitz and glamour of Tampa, Orlando and Sarasota to have retained its Old Florida charm.
It is a long way from the major theme parks in Orlando, and traffic jams are unheard of in the heart of Wauchula.
Some nearby towns on US-17 are Fort Meade, Zolfo Springs, and Bowling Green.
Zolfo Springs has Pioneer Park with its Cracker Trail Museum and Village. The village has several historic buildings including a pioneer cabin, a blacksmith shop, and a 1904 Baldwin steam locomotive.
Bowling Green is home to Paynes Creek Historic State Park with miles of hiking trails and many good places for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.
The map below will show you exactly where Wauchula is located in Central Florida.
1. You can visit the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, located just outside of Wauchula. The gardens feature a variety of native Florida plants, as well as art installations by local and international artists. There are also walking trails, a butterfly garden, and a pond with a resident alligator.
2. For a taste of Florida kitch, you can visit Solomon's Castle, a unique structure made entirely out of recycled materials by artist Howard Solomon. The castle is open for tours, and also houses a restaurant and art gallery.
3. If you're a nature lover, you can explore the Hardee Lakes County Park, which offers hiking trails, fishing, and kayaking on three lakes. The park also has picnic areas and campsites, so you can make a day or a weekend of it.
4. Wauchula is located near several state parks, including Myakka River State Park, Paynes Creek Historic State Park near Bowling Green, and Highlands Hammock State Park. These parks offer hiking, wildlife viewing, and camping opportunities in beautiful natural settings.
5. For a unique outdoor adventure, you can try airboating on the Peace River. Several companies in the area offer airboat tours, which allow you to explore the river and its wildlife up close.
6. The Pioneer Park Museum in Zolfo Springs, just a few miles from Wauchula, is a living history museum that showcases life in early Florida. You can see demonstrations of traditional crafts like blacksmithing and soap-making, and tour historic buildings like a one-room schoolhouse and a pioneer cabin.
7. If you're a fan of golf, you can play a round at the Sebring International Golf Resort, which is located about 30 miles from Wauchula in Sebring. The resort features two championship golf courses, as well as a driving range and a pro shop.
8. For a fun day trip, you can visit the nearby city of Sarasota, which is home to attractions like the Ringling Museum of Art, the Mote Marine Aquarium, and the Siesta Key beach.
9. The Florida Cracker Trail runs through Wauchula, and you can explore this historic cattle trail by taking a scenic drive or bike ride along the route. Along the way, you'll see picturesque ranches and farms, as well as historic markers and interpretive displays.
10. If you're interested in agriculture, you can visit a local citrus grove or cattle ranch to see how these industries operate. Many farms and ranches in the area offer tours and educational programs, so you can learn about Florida's rich agricultural heritage.
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
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