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Randell Research Center Acquires Five Additional Acres

Pine Island, Florida (March 15, 2015)
Special to Pine Island News

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The Florida Museum of Natural History's Randell Research Center on Pine Island, once home to the Calusa Indians, has acquired an additional five acres containing two mounds. The area will eventually be added to the site's educational interpretive trail.

Museum officials planned to formally announce the purchase Monday, March 16, at the Calusa Heritage Trail, 13810 Waterfront Drive, Pineland.

The addition of a burial mound and ancient midden to the now 67-acre site was made possible with a $150,000 gift from the Sear Family Foundation and $50,000 from the Calusa Land Trust.

"This is a dream come true," said Randell Center director William Marquardt, who was set to make the formal announcement Monday. "Since the original gift of property by the Randell family in 1996, we have wanted to add these mounds to the area that we protect and interpret for the public."

Marquardt said the 25-foot-tall, 230-foot-long Smith Mound is a sand burial area the Calusa used 350-1,000 years ago. It is named for Capt. John Smith, who in 1926 defended the mound from destruction. The smaller 10-foot-tall, 100-foot-long Low Mound contains charred wood, shells and animal bones -- the remains of meals consumed by the Calusa 1,700 years ago, about the time of the Roman Empire. Archaeologists believe the mound was built when the shoreline was much farther east than it is today, Marquardt said.

A fence and thick vegetation currently obscure the mounds, but Marquardt said future plans include clearing the invasive species and opening the area to the public.

"We'll need to raise additional funds to extend our fence around the new properties, and then extend the Calusa Heritage Trail so that our visitors can walk out to see the mounds," Marquardt said.

Calusa Land Trust President John Kendall said the donation is the group's largest gift to an outside entity.
"Our board deemed this parcel 'priceless' and part of our mission. We continue to seek partnerships with like-minded charitable organizations that also wish to help preserve this precious piece of paradise named Pine Island."

Donor Judith Sear said the Sear Family Foundation was pleased to augment funds already raised and set aside by area residents through the land trust.

"When we heard about the possibility of preserving these archaeologically significant mounds and adding to the Calusa interpretive site, we simply couldn't pass on the opportunity," she said.

Located on Pine Island, the Randell Research Center serves as a hub for research in archaeology, history, and ecology, and is open daily to the public. Exhibits are displayed in the classroom, and visitors to the Calusa Heritage Trail can stroll through the site and walk to the peaks of the highest mounds.

Signs along the trail explain what archaeologists have learned about the people who lived at Pineland for more than 2,000 years. January through April, guided public tours are offered Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The center is managed by the Florida Museum of Natural History, located in Gainesville on the University of Florida campus.

Pine Island Events

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Items of Note

  • NOW! 4th of July, 2017 -- Here for 4th of July, 2017 Parade video
  • ClamJamSWFL Video video link
  • 4th of July, 2016- Here for 4th of July, 2016 Parade video
  • Actual Photo of the Calusa Golden
    discovered over 40 years ago

Relevant Quotes

In 10,000 years no one ever sacrificed their arms, their legs, their family or their life for "progress."

Speaking of Iran's crude nuclear bomb technology and inaccurate delivery systems, "If I were the (west bank) Palestinians, I'd be a little nervous." --John Wohlstetter, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute
"Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops. " --Salman Rushdie (On the death of Christopher Hitchens, Dec.,16, 2011)

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."...."To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."-- Thomas Jefferson

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare… The powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America."--Alexander Hamilton:

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." --Winston Churchill