By Heather Turk
History buffs visiting Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach will discover several historical attractions close by. Whether they want to pay honor to those who fought for our country or visit a park that was once inhabited by indigenous people, guests will find several unique ways to walk in history’s footsteps while visiting the area.
At first glance, this Englewood attraction might seem like your typical park. There are boat ramps to go kayaking or canoeing, anglers can go fishing and there are several trails to go birdwatching. However, the park is actually a significant Gulf Coast archaeological site and mound that, thousands of years ago, attracted people for its availability of resources on land and in the surrounding waters. Once a bustling fishing village, the area was excavated in 1965 and 1966. Among the items uncovered were nearly 27,000 pottery sherds, a variety of knives and other chipped stone tools, and an assortment of beads. Markers throughout the park detail its history, letting guests journey into the past while enjoying a day in the sun.
Previously located in Fishermen’s Village, this Punta Gorda museum is relocating to a larger building just two blocks away to accommodate its growing numbers of visitors and artifacts. The new building will feature more than 17,000 square feet of exhibit and activity space so that the museum can better tell the stories of the men and women who served in all five U.S. military service branches across nearly four centuries. Visitors will find more than 20,000 artifacts on display while learning about the people who owned them, where the served, what they did and, in some cases, how they died. It all adds up to an emotional and enlightening experience.
VIETNAM WALL OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
An exact half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., this powerful Punta Gorda attraction in Laishley Park stands as a symbol of America’s honor. Inscribed on its black granite walls are the names of more than 58,000 men and women from all over the country who either gave their lives during one of the most divisive wars in U.S. history or remain missing. The rare attraction that has the power to heal, it’s not uncommon to hear stories of families who met men who served with their loved ones while visiting the wall.