Certain industries have a tendency to come and go rapidly. As a local example, logging in the Everglades was once big business. But not for long.
Around World War II, demand was high for the durable wood of cypress trees. As cypress groves around the Southeastern United States started to get depleted, the timber industry set its sights on the Everglades, where some cypresses had grown to over 130 feet. The swampy terrain was difficult to traverse, but the development of the Tamiami Trail and railroad lines into Southwest Florida made the once unthinkable possible.
Lee Tidewater Cypress Company, the C.J. Jones Company and other timber businesses made their stake in Southwest Florida logging in areas that are now known as The Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve and Big Cypress National Preserve. Company towns such as Copeland and Jerome were established to house the hundreds of workers and their families who moved south looking for work. Over the course of a decade, Lee Tidewater alone shipped about 360 million board feet of cypress to its mill in Perry, Florida, about 400 miles north. The C.J. Jones sawmill in Jerome grew to become the largest in the Southeast, producing 100,000 board feet per day.
The mill burned down in 1956. But by then, most of the harvestable cypress had been depleted, and the timbering companies ventured elsewhere. The Southwest Florida timber boom ended as quickly as it began.