Fort Cooper State Park is one of the many beautiful state parks in Florida. Fort Cooper is located in Citrus County in Inverness. The state park spans over seven hundred acres and was established as a state park in June of 1972. It is the home of countless deer, turkeys, opossums, bobcats, owls, herons, and cardinals.
Many visitors and residents enjoy traveling to the state park to take in the beautiful sights, spend the day camping or exploring, or dipping their toes in at Lake Holathlikaha. The park advertises prime fishing, swimming, sunbathing, camping, canoeing, hiking, boat tours, and nature viewing. One of the most popular hiking trails is the Withlacoochee State Trail.
Withlacoochee houses two well known Florida ghost towns. One is the town of Oriole which existed in the 1880s. It is located very near Croom, the other well known Florida ghost town. Oriole was settled as a mining town and boomed until local businesses began shutting down and moving to other up and coming towns. While all that is left is ruins, hikes through the area show remnants of sugar mills, mining camps, and old cemeteries.
Some people describe strange occurrences in those areas. The fact that they are in the middle of nowhere and very hard to find just add to the creepy nature of the now defunct towns. Visitors describe seeing apparitions, hearing the faint sounds of miners and workers, and smelling fire and other heavy equipment.
Another topic that residents in the area are proud to boast is that the Fort Cooper State Park was the primary site of the Second Seminole War, otherwise known as the Florida War Conflict, from 1835 to 1842. In that war, like so many before it, people were fighting over power and land ownership. In this instance, it was the United States and the Seminole Indian Tribe fighting over Florida lands.
Florida residents of the area host re-enactments of the events that took place in Florida’s early history for land. Even when the re-enactments are over and the last soldier has packed up his gear, people describe a feeling of darkness in the area. People feel a certain presence and are especially affected in certain areas. Commonly, the most complaints come from the ranger office and the gift shop. There are estimated to be the places of the most deaths, or even worse, of unmarked graves from soldiers and Seminole men who lost their lives in battle.
Many visitors even spot a great chief. He appears to be keeping watch over the area, and although many who see other soldiers or Native American spirits describe negative feelings and describe being pushed, or otherwise encouraged to leave, his spirit seems to be one of peace. It seems that he refuses to give up his claim over the beautiful lands of the state park. That may be true, but those who carelessly leave camp fires going or don’t pick up after themselves or otherwise disrespect the land have a different story to tell, often of the chief becoming quite aggressive and going so far as to throw objects or destroy camp sites.
While beautiful, Fort Cooper State Park has a dark, ominous past. Whether from its days as a booming mine town now riddled with spirits in its ghost towns or hearing the battle cries of the many soldiers and Seminole warriors who fought on its grounds, there were many tragedies and lives lost. While it may not be possible to nail down what the cause of the commotion is, there is no question that this park in Florida is not for the fainthearted.