About Hardee County
Formed in 1921 and named after Florida's 23rd governor, Carry A. Hardee, Hardee County is a rural, community-centered and agricultural based county. With a population of approximately 28,000, it's the perfect place to experience a genuine small-town atmosphere.
With its main focus on agriculture and cattle, Hardee County ranks third in the state as one of the purebred cattle producing counties in Florida with 69,000 heads of cattle, the third highest milk producing county in the state, and is fifth in the state for most commercial citrus production. Hardee County is approximately 638 square miles, with U.S. 17 as the main highway, running north and south through the county.
The City of Wauchula, with its Main Street lined with shops and local eateries, was incorporated in 1902 and is the county seat. For many years, the city was referred to as the 'Cucumber Capitol of the World.' These days, watermelons and citrus are even more important to the local economy. The name Wauchula comes from a Miccosoukee Indian word, meaning 'Call of the Sandhill Crane.'
The Town of Zolfo Springs is home to Pioneer Park, with its wildlife refuge, spacious campground, and Cracker Trail Museum and Village, which includes a collection of historic structures. Guests can visit the old Cracker cabin, post office, blacksmith shop, and see the 1904 Baldwin Steam Locomotive #3. In February, the annual Cracker Trail Ride of the Florida Cracker Trail Association travels through the town on horseback.
In Bowling Green, Paynes Creek Historic State Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts with its scenic walking trails and opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The visitor center includes a museum that depicts the lives of Florida's Seminole Indians and pioneers during the 19th Century. An area near the park was even the site of Fort Chokonikla, built in 1849.
Main attractions in Hardee County consist of Hardee Lakes, the annual county fair, and the quirky tourist attraction, Solomon's Castle, nestled in the quant community of Ona.
Hardee County is popular for its 67-mile long beautiful Peace River, which begins south of Bartow and ends in Charlotte Harbor. The river's known for canoe and kayak trips, where you are bound to see wildlife ranging from kingfishers to the famous Florida alligator.