November 13th, 2012 4:23 PM by Brent Ferry
Showcasing the area’s natural splendor and a history before theme parks
The Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum is now open. The Center had its ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 18th and an official Grand Opening event this past weekend held in conjunction with the 21st annual Pioneer Day at the nearby Osceola County Historical Society’s Pioneer Village & Museum (750. N. Bass Road). The Society, under an agreement with the County, will operate the Center/Museum.
While I spent some time with the family at Pioneer Day on Saturday, we didn’t get a chance to check out the new Welcome Center, so I did so for about an hour earlier this morning.
With over 230 feet of frontage on US 192, the Center is located at 4155 W. Vine Street (US 192) in Kissimmee on the northeast bank of Shingle Creek in the building formerly home to Roadhouse Grill which had sat vacant for some years.
The Museum features over 8,000 square feet of exhibits mixing nature and history including topics such as the land and native people, logging, cattle, sugar cane, the railroad, steamboats, Hamilton Disston’s role in the establishment of Kissimmee and St. Cloud, fishing, birding, the rodeo, and more. Swampland, Pine Flatwood, Oak Hammock, and Lakefront exhibits showcase some of natural Florida together with area wildlife and including the County’s draw as an eco-tourism destination.
I found the Flags of Florida room interesting. It featured some of the flags which have flown over Florida through its’ past including by Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America.
I also learned a few things. Among them “State, county, and local governments, along with private conservation groups, have partnered to protect natural resources and vital wildlife habitat of more than 33 percent of Osceola County.” Also, “While most people know the bald eagle as being our symbol of national strength and pride, few realize Osceola County has the highest concentration of nesting bald eagles in the lower forty-eight states.” Awesome!
Overall, I found the new Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum interesting and informative. Not too small. Not too big. And, I felt that the clever combination of nature center meets history museum was engaging even for my toddling sidekick. If you’re in the area, check it out! Admission is free. Donations accepted.
From I-4 or 535, travel east on 192. The Center/Museum will be on your left shortly past the Medieval Times attraction and Mile Marker 15.
While there, you can also check out some of the various sites of Shingle Creek Regional Park which the Center also serves as a gateway to.
Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum - NORTHEAST bank of Shingle Creek at 4155 West Vine Street (US 192)
Shingle Creek Regional Park/Steffee Homestead Property - SOUTHWEST bank of Shingle Creek at 4280 West Vine Street (US 192)
Shingle Creek Regional Park/Steffee Landing - SOUTHEAST bank of Shingle Creek at 4266 West Vine Street (US 192)
Shingle Creek Regional Park/Historic Babb Landing/Babb Property - at 2491 Babb Road