Koreshan State Historic Site – a former cult compound

Today we visited Koreshan State Historic Site in Estero, Florida.  It was beautiful, scenic, educational, slightly eerie, possibly haunted, and left us scratching our heads over the cult-ish religious beliefs of the people that once inhabited that land.

When I decided to drag my family on this little local adventure in 90 degree weather, I never expected it to be an educational trip to land once inhabited by a cult.  Honestly, I just planned to see old buildings of early Florida settlers, send the husband and son off on kayaks for some one-on-one time, and drag the other 4 hiking along the river.  But it ended up being so much more.

The first thing we did upon arrival was drop Roger and Marcus off at the boat ramp.  They were heading off on a kayak to explore the river and have some bonding time.  They had a blast!

After dropping them off, I drove to the historic site with the other 4 kids.  The first building along the path was Art Hall, where the Koreshan people performed for entertainment.  When we went inside, my children immediately ran over to the park guide who was in the corner talking to a small crowd.  5 minutes later their eyes were bugging out in confusion.  The Koreshan people had a very different religious belief system then anything they had ever heard before.

In short, even though the Koreshan people would look at outer space above, they believed space and the entire universe was contained inside the Earth.  They didn’t believe in death, nor did they believe in having relations with each other.  Males and females lived separately, and never produced children.  The religious belief of the Koreshan people was created by Cyrus Teed, who in 1869 claimed to have a vision and to be the messiah.

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Once I was able to drag my kids out of the art hall, we continued walking around the compound exploring the original houses.  I couldn’t help but have an eerie feeling as we walked through, surrounded by the sound of bamboo creaking and crackling in the wind.  There were tons of artifacts, from photos to furniture and many of the Koreshan’s belongings all set up as if they had just stepped out, bound to return at any moment.  Creepy!

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Anyway, despite the feeling, it’s a beautiful place and the hiking path is scenic and well worth the trip!  The baby didn’t like it as much and we had to cut the hike short, drive back to pick up the boys, and enjoyed a picnic lunch under the trees before heading home.  We already have plans to go back soon and attempt to finish that hike!

If you’re interested in visiting, here is the state park’s website:  https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Koreshan

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