History & Culture

History of the Osceola National Forest


This National Forest was created by proclamation of President Herbert Hoover on July 10, 1931. 

The four largest original land acquisitions in forming this forest were from the Columbia Farms Corporation, the Ocean Pond Land Company, E.A. McColskey and J.C. Marsh. 

Turpentine operations had been conducted on these lands for decades followed by extensive clear-cutting of timber so the first management plan was focused upon new growth.  Remnant virgin cypress and remaining scattered pines were harvested prior to extensive tree planting which produced an even-aged forest (trees roughly equal in age).  Unique among the other National Forests in Florida, a forestry research station operated in cooperation with forest management and many young foresters were trained through this program.  Originally, the primary use was for Naval Stores production with leased grazing rights, wildlife management and recreation taking minor roles.  During the 1950s,  after petrochemical derivatives were developed during WWII, cheaper petroleum-based substitutes replaced natural pine products shifting focus to mature saw timber production as well as pulpwood during the 1960s.

Origin of the name “Osceola”:  Osceola was a Seminole leader whose firm opposition to forced Seminole removal after the Treaty of Payne’s Landing encouraged armed resistance (the Second Seminole War began in 1835).  The name “Osceola” is derived from the Creek word “Asi” which means “leaves” [specifically the leaves of yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) used in preparing an emetic drink called the “black drink” used in special ceremonies] + “Yaholo” which means “singer” [alluding to the cry uttered by the serving attendant when the beverage was being distributed at the Busk ceremony] (Simpson, 1956).

Simpson, J. Clarence
1956 A Provisional Gazetteer of Florida Place-Names of Indian Derivation either Obsolescent or Retained together with others of Recent Application.  Florida Geological Survey Special Publication No. 1, Tallahassee, Florida.



The Battle of Olustee

Battle of Olustee

On a cool day in February hundreds of people gather on a field to recreate a battle that long ago took the lives of over 2,800 men during the Civil War.

Olustee Depot

Olustee Depot

Olustee Depot and museum is the main visitor center for the Osceola National Forest in Florida.