The City of North Port released its first ever commemorative history book, Out of the Wilderness, written by Marshall Grove. Grove was hired by the City in 2007 and has spent more than 18 months working on the book.
City residents can pay for the book visiting the Cashier's Office inside the first floor of City Hall. Those out of the area should contact the City Manager's Office at (941) 429-7077 for details on ways a book can be purchased and shipped.
The book is available in a hard-cover, standard edition for $15.00. Sales tax is included in that price.
While it is uncommon for a city to hire and produce its own book, North Port wanted to tell its own story. The book was part of the City of North Port's 50th Anniversary celebration, which took place throughout 2009.
Commissioner Tom Jones said, “The history book is a great conversation piece. It shares North Port’s past with visitors and new residents and gives the rest of us a framework from which to tell our own experiences here over the years.”
The book offers a unique view of the city’s history beginning with its archaeological and history dig sites and initial creation by General Development Corporation. It provides a look into the past struggle to get schools in the area, recreational activities for kids, and the early battle to get even simple amenities such as a police department and a fire department started.
Even the book’s title is not without its own history.
For more than twenty years, starting in 1982, hot air balloons were a fixture on North Port’s horizon. In those days, North Port’s woods and lack of power lines made it the perfect site to launch and land balloon rides. An old photograph of a hot air balloon rising out of the trees with “North Port!” emblazoned on the side inspired the book’s title.
To Groves, the balloon coming out of the trees represented a city coming out of the wilderness.
“It says to me ‘Here’s a nice place, let’s build a city.’” He said. “That’s pretty much what happened.”
Below are two excerpts from the book:
The man most responsible for North Port’s beginning brought his 10-year-old son to the Port Charlotte subdivision in the mid-1950’s. Frank Mackle Jr. showed the area to his son and proudly told him, “Someday, this will all be a great city.” His son looked at the flat Florida cattle land and pine trees and thought to himself, “He’s got to be kidding me.”
The depths of Warm Mineral Springs were first explored by retired Air Force Colonel William “Bill” Royal, a resident of the community. Royal was a diver and an amateur archaeologist who started diving in the spring in 1958. He found stalactites and stalagmites well below the water line in its 230-flood depths, evidence it has been a dry cavern during the Ice Age.
The rock strata in the walls date back 20 million years.
In 1959, to convince skeptics of the archeological value of the spring, Royal brought to the surface a 10,000-year-old human skull with preserved brain tissue. Below 20 feet, the water contains no dissolved oxygen, preserving human remains and artifacts.