Florida was one of the first states to embrace the automobile, with the first auto race in the state taking place in 1904. Today, Florida is still known for its car culture, with numerous car shows and events taking place throughout the year.
DeSoto County, located in southwestern Florida, has a rich and diverse history. The area was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Calusa and Seminole tribes. European exploration of the region began in the 16th century, with Spanish expeditions led by Hernando de Soto and Pánfilo de Narváez. De Soto County was named after Hernando de Soto, one of the early explorers of Florida.

In the late 19th century, the construction of railroads brought significant development to DeSoto County. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad established a line through the area, leading to the founding of the city of Arcadia as the county seat. The railroad facilitated transportation of goods such as citrus fruits, cattle, and phosphates, boosting the local economy.

DeSoto County saw rapid growth during the early 20th century, with a thriving citrus industry and the establishment of farms and ranches. However, the Great Depression and subsequent freezes in the 1930s severely affected the agriculture sector, causing a decline in population and economic hardships. The county gradually recovered through diversification into other industries, including forestry, mining, and tourism.

In recent years, DeSoto County has continued to foster economic development by attracting new industries and businesses. The county's natural resources, diverse wildlife, and recreational opportunities have made it an attractive destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The historical heritage of the area is also celebrated through the preservation of landmarks and the promotion of cultural events, ensuring that the rich history of DeSoto County is cherished and shared with future generations.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of DeSoto County, Florida.

  • 1838 - DeSoto County is established from part of Mosquito County.
  • 1842-1846 - The county is named after Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.
  • 1881 - Arcadia becomes the county seat.
  • 1886 - The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad is constructed, connecting Arcadia to other cities.
  • 1917 - The county courthouse is built in the Classical Revival style.
  • 1961 - The DeSoto County Historical Society is founded.
  • 2004 - Hurricane Charley causes significant damage in the county.
  • 2010 - The population of DeSoto County reaches over 34,000.