The collections held within the walls of Cracker Trail Museum consists of early photographs of Hardee County along with information concerning each, pioneer farm implements, pioneer household goods, and educational and professional items once used in the school system and businesses. The larger items that include tables, beds, wash stands, desks, cabinets, spinning wheels, looms and pump organs are displayed in such a way as a home or business would be; therefore allowing the visitor to reflect upon how the early residents of Hardee County lived and worked in their environment.
Collections also include a number of glass enclosed cases that house the many fossils discovered by local Boy Scout Troops along the Peace River. This area is known as Bone Valley and Cracker Trail Museum takes pride in displaying and identifying bone fragments of early sharks, horses, camels and mammoths. With the assistance of amateur paleontologists and members of fossil clubs, many of the previous unidentified items are quickly being able to include information detailing what it is. Likewise, the Phosphate Industry had an early beginning in Hardee County, where in 1890, this rich commodity was mined at Scott's Siding on the banks of the Peace River. At Cracker Trail Museum, you will view photographs of the early development of an industry that has once again returned to Hardee County.
Cowboys & Indians
The Seminole Indian had a great affect on this area and its early existence is showcased with information booklets, actual photographs of Seminole tribes and miscellaneous artifacts found in this area. Of course, this museum also houses a wide range of articles and artifacts reminiscent of the Florida Cowboy.
Cracker Trail Museum is home to more than 4,000 items, including approximately 80% of its collections that relates to Florida history. That history obviously is represented by the early organization of Hardee County, the Seminoles and their early settlements in Florida, the early collections of fossils that are still being found today, and the roles that business, government and industry played in the development of the smaller communities within the state.
Wars & REbellions
Miscellaneous wars and rebellions are represented by those who fought during the Spanish-American War, the Civil War and recent collections representing World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict.
The Inventory Process
Over half of the acquisitions are kept in glass enclosed cases which are located in one of the wings of Cracker Trail Museum. Each item is identified with a label which includes the donor’s name, identifying number and brief description. Each item is cared for by routine cleaning and all antique guns receive an annual cleaning by an expert in his field. Photographs are displayed in frames on the wall and careful attention is taken to properly identify all of those individuals within the picture and a number is assigned. All paper work is stored in filing cabinets with any information concerning the item. All items are entered into a data spreadsheet which includes its item number, person who donated it, description and date it was donated, and location of it within the museum. At any time, any item may be located by entering in a brief description of name of the individual who donated it. This process has been used quite often to locate a particular item that once belonged to a guest visiting the museum.
Current identification is being made of the hundreds of tools and farming implements located within the C.A. Bryant Blacksmith Shop. With the assistance of the International Tool Collectors Association, proper identification and cleaning of those items that were donated, along with this historic building, is being accomplished. Future plans include demonstrations of many of the refurbished gasoline engines, antique shoe making equipment, wagon wheel production and blacksmithing techniques.
History Rolls On...
A great amount of time is being spent to increase the number of items within the museum, as well as expanding those years already represented. Much emphasis is placed on the pioneer era, which is of course an important concept to Cracker Trail Museum. However, there have been important events that have taken place in the 1920's, 1930’s, 1940's and beyond. It is the intention of Cracker Trail Museum to include those subsequent years so those visiting will get a broader picture of earlier times in Hardee County.