When the state park system was created in 1935 Highlands Hammock, located a few miles west of Sebring in south central Florida (Highlands County), was already a park, due in large part to the largesse of Mrs. Margaret Roebling. (Mrs. Roebling's husband, John A. Roebling II, was the son of Washington Augustus Roebling, who built the Brooklyn Bridge after the design of his father, John Augustus Roebling. The bridge was completed in 1883.) She is memorialized by a modest plaque that was placed deep within the park when it was first opened to the public in 1931.

But soon the Depression severely circumscribed the ability of Highlands Hammock, Inc., the local association in Sebring that owned and maintained the park and financed it through memberships, to keep it open and plans were afoot for closure. Enter the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), initiated by President Franklin Roosevelt to counter the effects of the Depression and specifically designed (1) to conserve and restore the nation's natural enviornment and (2) provide employment for thousands of unemployed young men. When the CCC approached Florida officials with the offer of conservation programs in the state, the result was the beginning of the Florida State Park Service, which set about acquiring property and establishing CCC camps, the first of which began operation in Sebring in 1933. Two years later, in 1935, Highlands Hammock State Park received its first visitors.
The national and state park systems are so heavily endebted to the CCC that it is easy to imagine that they would never have been created without it. In Florida 86 camps functioned between 1933 and 1942 (when the demands of World War II took precedence) during which time eight of the present 140 Florida State parks were built. When alumni of those Florida CCC camps decided to ask the Park Service for funds for a CCC museum, Highlands Hammock was the logical location. The museum, which opened in November 1994 is housed in a 1939 CCC building before which stands a memorial statue that especially remembers the 228 who died when a hurricane on September 2, 1935 (Labor Day) struck three CCC camps in the Florida Keys.




Florida ParksHighlands Hammock Definitions
Walking Trails
Cypress Swamp
The Tram