Florida State Parks are in various stages of accessibility, and are working to improve access to services and facilities. Should you need assistance to enable your full participation, please contact the individual park office as soon as possible. Sometimes as many as ten days may be needed to schedule a particular accommodation.

Management & Protection
Florida State Parks are managed as natural systems. All plant and animal life is protected in state parks. Hunting, livestock grazing and timber removal are not permitted. Do not remove, deface, mutilate or molest any natural resources. For your safety, do not feed any animals. Intoxicants and firearms are prohibited.

Hours of Operation
Florida state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.

Pets are not allowed in camping areas, on bathing beaches, in concession areas and may be restricted in other designated areas of the park. Where pets are allowed, they must be kept on a six-foot, hand-held leash and well-behaved at all times. Service dogs are welcome in all areas of the parks.

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In the decade following the second Seminole Indian War, friction continued between the Seminoles and the white settlers who were continually encroaching on the land. The Seminoles often traveled from the interior of Florida to the Gulf coast to trade, passing white settlements -- a potential source of conflict. The U.S. authorities attempted to eliminate this volatile situation by establishing a trading post for the Seminoles in the interior. They calculated the post would eliminate the necessity to pass near white settlements and would establish, for the first time, a contact point where the Seminoles could easily be reached whenever the need arose to communicate with them. Therefore, the Darling Store was established in the spring of 1849. The spot selected was Paynes Creek (un-named at that time) on the northern boundary of the Reservation. It was attacked by five Seminoles on July 17, 1849. They opened fire on three clerks; Captain George S. Payne, Dempsey Whiddon and William McCullough. Whiddon and Payne were killed. Their grave site is now marked with a stone monument near the location of the old store. McCullough escaped with this wife and child, although he was wounded in the shoulder and leg.

The attack resulted from the action of five individuals, one of whom had been previously outlawed by his tribe. The Seminoles wished to avoid a conflict. They captured three of the culprits and killed a fourth. The fifth man escaped. The prisoners were turned over to the government in an attempt at appeasement. However, it took the government a while to realize the misunderstanding. In the meantime, federal troops were sent to Florida and plans were made for a campaign against the Seminoles. The strategic plan for removing them called for establishing a chain of forts, 10 miles apart, from the Manatee River to the Indian River. This line of outposts across the northern boundary of the Reservation would be to protect the settlers to the north and to establish bases from which the Seminoles could be pursued and harassed until they surrendered.

Work began on the first fort on October 26, 1849, on an elevated spot of ground, one-half mile north of the trading post. The fort took its name from the name of the store which had come to be known as "Chokonikla," a variant spelling of the Native American word for "burned house."

No fighting occurred at the fort, although a number of men died from disease. Sickness, particularly malaria and fever, were constant problems and ultimately caused the fort to be abandoned (July, 1850). As many as 223 men, including a regimental band, were garrisoned at the fort at one time, but usually the number was smaller. The events of 1849 did not immediately lead to war. The conflict was postponed until 1855 when a band of Seminoles attacked a military surveying party near Fort Myers. Although some of the Seminoles surrendered and were sent to Oklahoma, others remained hidden in the swamps of southern Florida where their descendants remain to this day. The remaining Seminoles never surrendered. They later signed a peace treaty with the U.S. Government in 1936 during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Trails lead through the woods to the high ground where Fort Chokonikla once stood and to the location of the Kennedy Darling store. Near this feature is the stone monument marking the burial place of George Payne and Dempsey Whiddon.

Exhibits interpreting the Seminoles, Fort Chokonikla, the trading post and events that occurred here are located in the visitor center.

Picnic tables and shelters are available for visitors to relax and enjoy lunch and the surroundings.

Fishing opportunities are available in the Peach River. A Florida freshwater fishing license is required for persons 16 years of age or older.

Paynes Creek State Historic Site is located one half mile east of Bowling Green.

For more information on this park, write to:
Paynes Creek State Historic Site
888 Lake Branch Road
Bowling Green, Florida 33834 or call (941) 375-4717
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