Where the Swallowtail Kite Soars:
The Legacies of Glades County, Florida and The Vanishing Wilderness

Palmdale, a remote town in Glades County with a population less than 1,000, is on the curb of creeping urbanization.

Today, more people than Palmdale’s entire population are moving into Florida each day.


Swallowtail Kite

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Photo courtesy of Bud Adams, Adams Ranch, Ft. Pierce, FL

The pioneer culture and Florida’s last wilderness is threatened by growth that exploits “blue gold” water and the land. The sprawling ranches set amidst tall cabbage palm prairies are disappearing. The cost to stay is more than the price to sell with high inheritance taxes and the evaporation of a cattle based economy.

The early pioneers forecasted Florida’s future in their own lifetime as they struggled to hold onto a way of life in a place where few chose to carve a living.

Their stories predict the high premium of development: light pollution, traffic, sewage, crime and the “napalming” of native trees replaced by “ornamental” shrubs, cement, and gated communities. They foresaw the destruction of natural eco-systems, water shortages and communities where wildlife extermination businesses spring up to destroy “pesky” intruders such as squirrels, woodpeckers, snakes and other Everglades species.

The story of Palmdale, Florida, and its people reflects a proud cultural heritage living on the edge of civilization. Palmdale is a ghost town today with only a few ranches left and the Seminole Indian Tribe living off a small market economy against the odds of metropolitan growth, dollars and political power.

This story reflects a tragic national trend threatening the survival of rural America.