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Stalk prehistoric mastodons with Florida's first big-game hunters, or travel even further back in time, when colossal sharks cruised the warm tropical seas that once covered Southwest Florida. See ancient shell tools and ceremonial masks and dig up the facts about the Calusa Indian civilization that flourished here centuries before European explorers first set foot on the Gulf coast. Trace America's little-known wars in South Florida, the heroic journey of the Seminole people, and the origins behind traditional crafts like patchwork, once laboriously stitched together on hand-cranked sewing machines.
Experience the daily lives - and utter isolation - of the first settlers and their families as they arrived on this watery frontier a hundred years ago, and share in the vision of a self-made multi-millionaire who dreamed of taming a wilderness swampland the size of Delaware. Along the way, we'll introduce you to the hardy and colorful folk - the cattlemen, clam diggers, trail blazers, plume hunters, hermits, loggers, railroaders, rum runners, Crackers and Indian traders - who wrote the pioneer history of Collier County.
Nestled on five acres of native Florida landscaping, our flagship museum at the County Government center in Naples offers newly created exhibits and galleries that capture the full panorama of local history. Pack a picnic and linger a while in the museum's shady backyard. Then do a little exploring on your own in our native gardens, restored Naples cottages, the archaeology lab, Seminole village or Calusa Indian camp.
Enlarged twice, the museum's main gallery offers over 10,000 square feet of new displays, plus a traveling exhibit room, lecture hall, and gift shop.
Collier County Museum - WWII Sherman Tank
Collier County's surviving World War II veterans can now be reunited one last time with an old battlefield friend - a genuine Sherman tank! Designed in 1940, the Sherman was the armor backbone of the American and Allied armies during World War II and became one of the most important battlefield weapons of the war. The M4 entered its first action with the British 8th Army on October 24, 1942 and played a decisive role at the battle of El Alamein in North Africa. It was the British too, who first named it the "Sherman" tank in tribute to the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.
Despite its tall silhouette and glaring weakness in both armor and firepower, Shermans proved their combat worthiness in all terrain and weather conditions and in every major theater of the war. Reliable, robust and and easy to operate, it became the most widely used battle tank of World War II and was supplied in considerable numbers to the Soviet Union and England, as well as free French and Polish forces. Over the course of the war, the tank went through a steady series of refinements and improvements to its armor, engine, running gear and weapons systems. Some versions were modified for special duty as armored bulldozers, minesweepers, rocket launchers, recovery tractors and personnel carriers.
Sherman flame thrower tanks, or "Zippos" became a key weapon in the Pacific theater from mid-1944 on and were heavily used by the U.S. Army and Marine units to knock out enemy bunkers. By the time production ended in June 1945, American factory workers had turned out a total of 49,234 Sherman tanks to help win World War II. Thousands remained in active service after the war and fought again in Korea, forming divisional tank companies for close infantry support.
Although declared obsolete by the U.S. Army in 1956, the Sherman's combat career lasted for another two decades with the Israeli Defense Force and over forty other armies around the world. To learn all about the Collier County Museum, and more history of Naples Florida please visit their website.
All text Courtesy Collier County Museum