Friday, June 8, 2018

Trapper Nelson

Here is another post from March that never made it onto the blog.

I wish I could have met this guy. He sounds like he was quite the character! Nelson (Vince Nostokovich) was known as the Tarzan of the Loxahatchee River in Florida, or the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee".

After a close call with the law when he was in his early 20's  Trapper came upon a clearing along the banks of this winding, narrow river.

There was a lean-to, but no one seemed to be living there. So, Nelson moved in and eventually purchased this property and 1000 acres around the  original site.

 Trapper constructed a very rustic cabin.

Later Nelson built a larger cabin and rented his original cabin for $8 a night.

When the Park service re-chinked the fireplace they found over $1000 in coins. Evidently Trapper would "deposit" his money in a void in the fireplace.

Trapper prepared food for his overnight guests. His meals were cooked outdoors, and often were comprised of Gopher Tortoise (kept in the pen) and tropical fruits.

Trappers homestead became a curiosity for locals and Florida visitors in the 40's and 50's. He became a Florida tourist attraction and visitors would come by boat, just as we did. Trapper created a small zoo with native animals, including alligators. He also sold plants and fruit.

Nelson would entertain visitors wrestling Stumpy, the alligator.

As Nelson's notoriety grew the State began to intervene, imposing restrictions and requiring "upgrades". Nelson had to provided a public restroom. The original still stands today. The docent insured that no one would consider using the facility by commenting in an off-hand way that we should be cautious and looks for snakes if we went inside, as they enjoy the coolness of the concrete floors. 

In order to provide water for the restrooms Nelson and to dig a well. This is his well and pump house.

Government regulations and red tape eventually led Nelson to shut down his operation. It wasn't worth the hassle. 

Nelson was found shot in the heart. Controversy still surrounds his death, which was ruled a suicide. 

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