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Author Topic: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...  (Read 3131 times)

FloridaFishinFool

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Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« on: February 25, 2017, 10:32:45 AM »

Well it is official. I am stumped on this one.

I now have two young sons that I am bringing up the same way I was getting them into boating and fishing here in central Florida, and one of the crazy ideas I had a couple of years ago is still playing out for us.

Old Florida fish camps. Not too many of those left around.

So I do quite a bit of online research trying to dig up the locations of old Florida fish camps, many of which have long since been out of business.

But what is cool, is that even today, though out of business, the owners of the old fish camps will still allow us an opportunity to look around, share the old history with us, even let us camp out there and use the old boat ramps and facilities if available.

So it has been a really cool experience for me and my boys to take the boat around our area, but this year I wanted to branch out and travel a little bit further and I found this old Florida post card online and began researching it but I must admit right now I am stumped and have reached a dead end. So I am putting this one out there for the members here to see if any of you have been there, know about this place, its location, and some basic history on this place.

I would first like to locate the exact location of this old lodge, and try and find out more about their so called bass fishing hall of fame and what happened to it. I personally find this an interesting story to dig into... and hopefully given enough time I will get to the bottom of this one.

I have a couple more avenues to search out like a local historical society, Glades County Clerk's office, tax records, etc. But what I have found so far is just a mystery. So let me begin this thread by simply posting the images of the post card I found online and let's take it from there...

(If you can't tell already I am an amateur Florida history research nut)



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Words are the exercise for the brain. Words are life expressed... without words we die a slow meaningless death. Silence to the grave is no way to go! So live! Use words! Power of the pen is sharper than any sword! Make it so! Mom said don't surround yourself with idiots! Fly higher than the Eagles... and don't run with the turkeys! Deus Vult!

FloridaFishinFool

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2017, 10:37:45 AM »

The first place I went to look for information on this old lodge was in the Florida Dept. Of State records on Florida corporations which are public records easily searched out online and I found this:

Florida Profit Corporation
CALUSA LODGE, INC
Filing Information
Document Number
392288
FEI/EIN Number
00-0000000
Date Filed
12/06/1971
State
FL
Status
INACTIVE
Last Event
DISSOLVED BY PROCLAMATION
Event Date Filed
07/02/1973
Event Effective Date
NONE
Principal Address

Mailing Address

Registered Agent Name & Address
NONE
Officer/Director Detail
NONE
Annual Reports
No Annual Reports Filed

Document Images
No images are available for this filing.

Well that is a starting point. This lodge existed from at least 1971 to 1973 in the official records, but that post card to me just looks older, more like the 1960's or even 1950's, but I could be wrong. It could be the early 1970's, but how long did it take them to put all those fish on the wall?
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Words are the exercise for the brain. Words are life expressed... without words we die a slow meaningless death. Silence to the grave is no way to go! So live! Use words! Power of the pen is sharper than any sword! Make it so! Mom said don't surround yourself with idiots! Fly higher than the Eagles... and don't run with the turkeys! Deus Vult!

FloridaFishinFool

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2017, 10:43:24 AM »

Then I came across a newspaper article written by some bicyclist who did a 130 mile trip around that part of Lake Okeechobee and found this reference in his 1994 article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/travel/1994/05/22/around-okeechobee/bdca38b3-5fa1-4f18-94dd-3c0bbd6e463e/

"I'd covered about 30 miles since leaving Clewiston, so decided to stop in Lake Port for the night at rustic Calusa Lodge, a fishing camp that offers live music Saturday nights. The cypress-paneled dining room bustled with a mix of cowboys, Seminoles and retirees. The accommodations here were basic motel, but I didn't require anything fancy. Breakfast next morning started at 5:30 -- same as at most places around the lake that cater to anglers eager to be on the water before sunrise.

As I started Day 2 of my ride, the rim canal lay landward of the dike. Retirement houses with four-board fences and screened porches began to show up among the shacks and mobile homes.

The trail was remote, with enough ruts to shake saddlebag clips loose from racks. When I stopped, I found the weedy dew had washed the insect repellent off my bare legs. Mosquitoes attacked. I didn't stop for long. The weeds were so thick in some places the trail was a mere memory.

At Indian Prairie Canal, about 10 miles north of Calusa Lodge, the trail came to a road again and ran straight for a time, and I pedaled smoothly again. The loudest noise was now the wind in my ears. When I stopped, I could hear other sounds: a frog croaking, birds calling, crickets chirping, cows munching grass.

About 10 miles from the canal, the road crossed the Kissimmee River...
"

So now I am getting a little bit closer to the actual location of this old lodge. It is not actually further South in Moore Haven, it is actually to the north some where in the LakePort area!

Back in those days Moore Haven must have been the closest mailing location until the area developed over the years and LakePort got their own mailing zip code I am assuming.
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Words are the exercise for the brain. Words are life expressed... without words we die a slow meaningless death. Silence to the grave is no way to go! So live! Use words! Power of the pen is sharper than any sword! Make it so! Mom said don't surround yourself with idiots! Fly higher than the Eagles... and don't run with the turkeys! Deus Vult!

FloridaFishinFool

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2017, 10:51:15 AM »

By now I am getting really curious about this place because for one I don't like not finding my target! Makes me dig even deeper... so I decided to do a statewide public records search on the Calusa Lodge and that is when I found out the owner did not like paying taxes. But still no address even after looking at the records, though I did not look at all of them.

Apparently from what I can tell in the official public records, the Calusa Lodge when run as a business also owned other real estate properties in the area around it as I found records describing those as well.


Order   From   To   Date   Document Type   County   Instrument Number   Book/Page   Pages   Description
   HODGE DIANA L, CALUSA LODGE   COMMERCIAL BANK OF OKEECHOBEE   07/31/1984   TERMINATION   OKEECHOBEE   842630446   263/446   1   #138267
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   BECK, KATHY, CALUSA LODGE   12/13/1993   LIEN   GLADES   102397   144/787   1   
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK, KATHY   02/09/1994   LIEN   GLADES   102885   145/861   1   $3186.55
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK, KATHY   02/14/1994   LIEN   GLADES   102947   145/979   1   $1284.20
View Image
   STATE OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVE   BECK, KATHY, CALUSA LODGE   02/22/1994   RELEASE   GLADES   103007   145/1089   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   03/23/1994   RELEASE   GLADES   103301   146/534   1   
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   BECK,KATHLEEN, CALUSA LODGE   05/10/1994   LIEN   GLADES   103762   147/537   1   
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   BECK,KATHLEEN K., CALUSA LODGE   07/13/1994   LIEN   GLADES   104279   148/972   1   
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   12/28/1994   LIEN   GLADES   105415   151/410   1   
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHLEEN K.   08/01/1995   LIEN   GLADES   106972   154/733   1   
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHLEEN K.   09/07/1995   LIEN   GLADES   107202   155/283   1   
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTEMENT OF REVENUE, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   10/02/1995   LIEN   GLADES   107344   155/660   1   
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   BECK,KATHLEEN K., CALUSA LODGE   12/08/1995   LIEN   GLADES   107847   156/751   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   01/23/1996   LIEN   GLADES   108225   157/786   1   
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHLEEN K.   03/25/1996   LIEN   GLADES   108675   158/779   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   05/08/1996   LIEN   GLADES   109037   159/657   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   06/21/1996   RELEASE   GLADES   109364   160/527   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   06/24/1996   LIEN   GLADES   109374   160/541   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & EMPLOYMENT SE   BECK,KATHY, CALUSA LODGE   08/12/1996   LIEN   GLADES   109699   161/312   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF LABOR & EMPLOYMENT SE   BECK,KATHY, CALUSA LODGE   08/12/1996   LIEN   GLADES   109700   161/313   1   
View Image
   DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK,KATHY   09/24/1996   LIEN   GLADES   109988   162/27   1   
View Image
   CALUSA LODGE   KOESTER GARY K   03/22/2002   JUDGMENT   GLADES   128423   204/878   1   CASE 2001 CC 59
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHLEEN K   12/28/2004   RELEASE   GLADES   139311   232/327   1   OR 148 PG 972
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   BECK KATHLEEN, CALUSA LODGE   12/28/2004   RELEASE   GLADES   139310   232/326   1   OR 147 PG 537
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHY   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139394   232/628   1   OR 160 PG 541
View Image


Order   From   To   Date   Document Type   County   Instrument Number   Book/Page   Pages   Description
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   BECK KATHY, CALUSA LODGE   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139396   232/630   1   OR 155 PG 660
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   BECK KATHY, CALUSA LODGE   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139398   232/632   1   OR 162 PG 27
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHY   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139395   232/629   1   OR 151 PG 410
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   BECK KATHY, CALUSA LODGE   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139400   232/634   1   OR 143 PG 600
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHY   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139397   232/631   1   OR 145 PG 861
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHY   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139399   232/633   1   OR 157 PG 786
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHY   01/05/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   139401   232/635   1   OR 159 PG 657
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHLEEN K   03/28/2005   RELEASE   GLADES   140641   235/654   1   OR 155 PG 283
View Image
   FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHY   03/28/2005   SATISFACTION   GLADES   140639   235/652   1   OR 161 PG 312 ET AL
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   BECK KATHLEEN K, CALUSA LODGE   03/28/2005   RELEASE   GLADES   140642   235/655   1   OR 156 PG 751
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHLEEN K   04/04/2005   RELEASE   GLADES   140830   236/141   1   OR 158 PG 779
View Image
   INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE   CALUSA LODGE, BECK KATHLEEN K   04/04/2005   RELEASE   GLADES   140829   236/140   1   OR 154 PG 733
View Image
   BAXTER GLEN, CALUSA LODGE LOT      02/27/2006   NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT   GLADES   145214   249/624   1   695 E STATE ROAD NE 78
View Image
   LEE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT   BAY BREEZE LLC, CALUSA LODGE MOTEL   05/07/2009   NOTICE   LEE   2009000124373   0/0   2   35452204000090000


Well by now I think it is very clear why this old lodge and motel are long since out of business when the owner failed to pay sales taxes to the state of the Florida and even federal income taxes too. These public records indicate a long drawn out tax battle.

So from these PUBLIC tax records easily searched out online here is the location address I am finding:

Route 2 Box 410 LakePort, Florida 33471

And doing a google search on that address pulled this up:

N.G.S. INC.

Address: RT 2 BOX 410 LAKEPORT, FL 33471
Status: INACTIVE

N.G.S. INC. is a Florida Profit Corporation. Company Number assigned to this company is P95000062677. US Federal EIN/TIN number of this company is NONE. Last event in this company was registered on Friday 23rd August 1996 - is twenty years, six months and five days ago. N.G.S. INC. was incorporated on Friday 11th August 1995 so company age is twenty-one years, six months and eighteen days. The company registration status is INACTIVE.

N.G.S. INC. register office address is RT 2 BOX 410, LAKEPORT, FL 33471. Company mailing address is the same as principal address. You can find this business by geo coordinates: 26 58' 34" N , 81 7' 39" W.

Now I have some coordinates to go on and a possible actual location for this old lodge! Doing some more digging...

« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 11:00:43 AM by FloridaFishinFool »
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Words are the exercise for the brain. Words are life expressed... without words we die a slow meaningless death. Silence to the grave is no way to go! So live! Use words! Power of the pen is sharper than any sword! Make it so! Mom said don't surround yourself with idiots! Fly higher than the Eagles... and don't run with the turkeys! Deus Vult!

FloridaFishinFool

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2017, 11:09:49 AM »

There are a couple of newer business listings possibly throwing us off track to finding the old lodge:

CAULSA LODGE OF LAKE PORT INC.
Florida Department Of State Business Registration Updated 1/24/2017
   
Caulsa Lodge Of Lake Port Inc. is a Florida Domestic Profit Corporation filed on January 2, 2001 . The company's filing status is listed as Inactive and its File Number is P01000000392.

The Registered Agent on file for this company is Manning John W and is located at 2017 Hwy 441 Se, Okeechobee, FL 34977. The company's principal address is 985 Cr 721 Loop, Moore Haven, FL 33471 and its mailing address is P.O. Box 1903, Okeechobee, FL 34973.

The company has 1 principal on record. The principal is John W Manning from Okeechobee FL.

-----------------------------------------------------

Licensee Details
Licensee Information
    Name:   FULWIDER BEVERLY (Primary Name)
       CALUSA HUNTING & FISHING LODGE (DBA Name)
    Main Address:   685 CR 721 LOOP, LODGE OFFICE
LAKEPORT  Florida  33471
    County:   GLADES
 
    License Mailing:   CR 685 721 LOOP
LAKEPORT  FL   33471
    County:   GLADES
 
    LicenseLocation:   685 CR 721 LOOP
LAKEPORT   FL   33471
    County:   GLADES
 
License Information
    License Type:   Motel
    Rank:   Motel
    License Number:   3200006H
    Status:   Closed
    Licensure Date:   09/17/1996
    Expires:   12/01/1999
--------------------------------------------------------------------

I did a google map search for this address location and once found I then switched over to google earth for a local view and all I saw at that location were two small concrete block houses side by side, but nothing even resembling an old fishing camp or lodge.

Now with that being said and not wanting to miss anything, these google earth street views only show us what is within camera shot from the road.

It is possible the old lodge is at one of these locations, but further from the road and closer to the canals at the back that lead out to Lake Okeechobee, but the satellite image is not showing me any old lodge buildings at these addresses.

And this does deserve further research if the old lodge is located here, but the google mapping showed me another location for the N.G.S., Inc. business mentioned above also located at the same address mentioned on court documents as the real location. So I will be digging into that as well and I already have a couple lines out to locals in the area fishing for the lodge location.

It will be found if it still exists...
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 11:18:56 AM by FloridaFishinFool »
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Words are the exercise for the brain. Words are life expressed... without words we die a slow meaningless death. Silence to the grave is no way to go! So live! Use words! Power of the pen is sharper than any sword! Make it so! Mom said don't surround yourself with idiots! Fly higher than the Eagles... and don't run with the turkeys! Deus Vult!

FloridaFishinFool

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2017, 11:38:38 AM »

Well this is an interesting development... I found an article about criminal activity being orchestrated out of the Calusa lodge back in the mid 1980's and it even mentions inside the old lodge was a secret trap door too. WTF??? A secret trap door? Inside an old Florida hunting and fishing lodge? This is getting more mysterious by the minute! And I love it!

Years ago I did some research on Al Capone and his investments in Florida because I went to school in an old hotel built in 1925 out in the middle of no where Florida that never had any parking spots created because they did not want anyone driving up to it. It was built with mob money and they flew in by plane to their own private airport at the old hotel.

I went there in the 1970's as a student sent away to a boarding school for my 10th grade year in high school and I absolutely fell in love with the old hotel and its hideaway location and its mob history too which was very interesting to research.

And this old lodge is starting to sound awfully familiar because some of the houses built by the company who built the old hotel for Al Capone and his gang also developed residential neighborhoods in the area and some of those old houses built in the mid 1920's also had secret trap doors and passageways inside of them too!

I wonder if there is a connection? Would be cool if there was!

---------------------------------------------

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1986-05-14/news/8601290171_1_mallards-ducks-hunter-shot

Duck-kill Contest Is Denied By Hunter

May 14, 1986|By James H. Tolpin, Staff Writer

After a half-day trial Tuesday in West Palm Beach, federal prosecutor Neil Karadbil, his voice cracking with emotion, weaved together his case from the far-flung elements of what he called the ``massacre`` of Jan. 19, 1985.

As evidence, there were undercover agents, a secret trap door, an oven full of feathers, an award ceremony and a Chamber of Commerce videotape.

Karadbil told the judge that Howard O. Haines, awarded the Best Hunter trophy at a Lake Okeechobee banquet, should be found guilty -- guilty of possessing 34 Florida mallards, 33 more than the one-a-day bag limit.

``The award,`` Karadbil concluded before falling silent, ``was for a duck massacre rather than a shoot-out.``

Haines, a Fort Lauderdale meat company owner and former chairman of Ducks Unlimited, which raises money to preserve duck habitats, denied he or anyone in his hunting party was over the limit. He possessed no more than one Florida mallard and two other ducks, he testified.

``We were well within our limit because we were checked by a game warden of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the airboat ramp,`` Haines said.

His attorney, Robert Schwartz, said the prosecutor and agents from Fish and Wildlife, despite rolls of photographs and the videotape, failed to show Haines with any ducks, either on the dock or in his room at the Calusa Lodge near Lakeport on the lake`s western shore.

U.S. Magistrate Ann Vitunac said she would rule on the case today at 2 p.m. First, Vitunac said, she would start the trial of William McGee, the season- ending hunt`s organizer, a Fort Lauderdale real estate broker and himself a former Ducks Unlimited chairman.

If convicted, Haines, 44, of the 1500 block of Ponce de Leon Drive, could face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Karadbil called three Fish and Wildlife agents as witnesses against Haines, one of them an undercover agent who took still photos, and introduced a promotional videotape, made by coincidence on Jan. 19, 1985, produced by the Chamber of Commerce of Moore Haven in Glades County.

Special Agent Sidney Woodson said he wore civilian clothes and posed as a hunter after he heard a ``shoot-out`` -- or competitive hunt -- was planned by a large group that had booked all the rooms at the Calusa Lodge.

He said he saw Haines drive up to the lodge with 34 Florida mallards in a decoy bag and report his day`s take to McGee, who was keeping a list of what each hunter shot.

Woodson snapped a photo of a group posing with ducks, but none of Haines. Agents rolled a television into the courtroom to watch a seven-minute videotape showing raw footage of airboats, happy hunters, hundreds of dead ducks and a black dog named Duke.

Karadbil said the tape showed McGee with the list and yelling, ``Let`s get the mallards out of here.`` Other agents testified that about 30 mallards were taken into Haines` room, though no agent saw Haines bring in any mallards.

Later, Woodson said, though he could not get into the banquet, he overheard Haines being presented an award for shooting 34 Florida mallards.

Haines, who said he never reported to McGee and that there was no list, testified the award was for shooting 34 ducks -- not just mallards -- over the whole hunting season.

Meanwhile, while about eight Fish and Wildlife agents monitored who went in and out of Haines` room, Special Agents Robert Prather and Terrence English drove to West Palm Beach and got a search warrant from Vitunac.

When they returned about 9:45 p.m., they found five Florida mallards in Haines` refrigerator and four stashed in a trash container being used to hold dog food.

English testified there were feathers on a bed and in the oven and closet.

Woodson testified that in February 1986 -- 13 months after the hunt -- he learned that the closet where the feathers were found contained a secret trap door, which could explain how the mallards disappeared despite agents` surveillance.

A laboratory analysis of the feathers he collected from the trap door showed they were from Florida mallards, Woodson said.

Haines said some of the other 75 to 80 hunters with his party at the lodge stored ducks in his refrigerator and that he knew nothing of the ducks under the dog food.
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Words are the exercise for the brain. Words are life expressed... without words we die a slow meaningless death. Silence to the grave is no way to go! So live! Use words! Power of the pen is sharper than any sword! Make it so! Mom said don't surround yourself with idiots! Fly higher than the Eagles... and don't run with the turkeys! Deus Vult!

FloridaFishinFool

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2017, 11:48:31 AM »

Hmmm... another interesting development.

When you have a business operating in Florida it is usually listed in the official records and can be easily found. So when I first did my business search for the Calusa Lodge all I found was one listing dating to 1971 to 1973.

And yet doing a newspaper search I find that a Bob Mixon did a weekly report from the Calusa Lodge back in the 1950's:

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19590704&id=uDtSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_3YDAAAAIBAJ&pg=786,1653715&hl=en

This indicates it was operating as a legitimate business, but I have yet to find any official records for it from before 1971. It could have been going by another name.
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Words are the exercise for the brain. Words are life expressed... without words we die a slow meaningless death. Silence to the grave is no way to go! So live! Use words! Power of the pen is sharper than any sword! Make it so! Mom said don't surround yourself with idiots! Fly higher than the Eagles... and don't run with the turkeys! Deus Vult!

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2017, 11:58:09 AM »

A google search pulled up a book that contains a reference to the location of the old lodge. It is a shame I only get one sentence before moving to the next page in the book google is not showing online for free.

Guide to the Lake Okeechobee Area
By Bill Gregware, Carol Gregware

Just north of the Harney Pond Canal is the junction of State Route 78 with County Road 721. Glenn Hunter's RV park, store, and guide service, lakeport lodge and restaurant, and the Duck Pub are found at this intersection. Glenn Hunter is of the best known guides on Lake Okeechobee, having been featured on numerous television shows and in many national magazines.

Another well known dining spot in LakePort is the Calusa Lodge, just South of Harny Pond Canal. The collection of...

(and it ends there going on to the next page that is not shown online.) I assume they were about to mention the large collection of mounted bass hanging on the wall as shown in the post card above.


« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 12:05:04 PM by FloridaFishinFool »
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2017, 12:43:39 PM »

There are eerie parallels with this old lodge and the old hotel Al Capone's mob money helped build back in 1925.

The Orlando Florida developer and real estate agent masterminding the whole operation of taking some 4,000 to 5,000 acres of cattle ranch lands and developing them into a central Florida hideaway and resort hotel complete with golf courses, hunting and fishing type of thing solicited a lot of business up in the Chicago area trying to lure down to Florida a lot of northern money just sitting around up there in stuffy old banks.

And while doing some research on this mysterious Calusa Lodge I am finding the exact same thing. A parallel story of an old remote hunting and fishing lodge being used by northern money. I found two stories about this in the Chicago Tribune dating back into the 1950's and 1960's:

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1964/11/29/page/140/article/from-a-travelog

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1953/08/09/page/206/article/fresh-water-fishing-good-in-lauderdale

(I will transcribe the relevant part of the short article from 1953 Chicago Tribune)

Fresh Water Fishing Good In Lauderdale

...The choice spot for bass, however, is nearby Lake Okeechobee, second largest fresh water lake in the United States. Here the largemouth black bass run in great number and size. It is not unusual to hook a 10-pounder. Flies, popping bugs and other lures will bring the husky bass up for fly casters, while favorite plugs and spoons prove effective for bait casters.

Altho, the bass is king, many anglers prefer the well known varieties of bream or bluegill, which also are plentiful. The pan fish afford high sport on a fly rod and make a wonderful dish after a day of casting.

Two excellent fishing lodges are operated by Fort Lauderdale Sportsmen in the Okeechobee region. Taxidermist Joe Reese offers Calusa Lodge on the lake 16 miles north of Moore Haven, while Bill Johnson has a camp with full facilities at Clewiston.

----------------------------------

And right there in this old article is the key to why this Calusa Lodge is so hard to nail down.

By all appearances, it is indeed a northern money resort lodge built in a once remote part of the Lake and woods owned and operated by Fort Lauderdale Sportsmen and run locally by a Joe Reese in the early 1950's almost exclusively catering to northern big money coming down here for a very quiet get away to do some fishing in the Florida sun away from civilization.
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2017, 01:07:36 PM »

 I hope you don't come after me!!! LOL
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2017, 01:21:09 PM »

Well this seals the deal... and oddly enough I still can't find the location of this place! They hid it well! I can not find a direct street address for this place!

But I just found an advertisement in a 1985 FLYING magazine advertising the Calusa Lodge as having its own airplane runway! The ad says Rooms, restaurants, marina, guides, and a 2800 foot air strip for landing small planes.

Everything I am seeing here is matching up near identical to old Al Capone's Mount Plymouth Hotel built back in 1925 out in the middle of no where Florida as a get away for northern mobsters to fly down to. This old hotel never built a parking lot! Not the first parking space was ever built. Kind of weird!

But here are some images found online of the old Mount Plymouth hotel and surrounding development that cost more than $6,000,000 dollars back in 1925, and supposedly about $1,000,000 of it came from the Capone organization and Capone was known to hang out there too.









In the above image of this mobster hideout hotel out in the middle of no where Florida, do you see that round tower on the right side? The upstairs portion was known as the Al Capone room suite. His entourage would stay in the rooms behind it and off to the side over the main lobby.

The room directly below the Capone suite was their card and gambling room- the one with the big windows. The hotel owner kept the booze across the street in his cabin during prohibition hidden in a secret basement hidden below his bedroom closet. I've seen it and photographed it.

All of the other guests in the hotel got rooms all the way off to the left side of the hotel in the regular rooms area of the hotel. Al Capone and his wife and young son were known to have stayed here and a local museum has Al Capone's son's baby high chair he used while staying at this hotel.

Down the street from this old hotel are a couple of houses built by a Chicago artist named Sam Stoltz the Florida developers imported to build unique artsy houses for selling the lots to potential buyers. The house closest to the old hotel was bought up by Graves Whitmire who owned 2 Chicago newspapers. Al Capone was a guest at his house that even included a secret door in the master bedroom and a passageway down to the garage.

The driveway was also set up defensively with a unique coquina wall strategically placed to provide cover from would be snipers trying to take out Al Capone as he got in and out of his car to enter or leave the Graves Whitmire house there. All still there to this day.

And isn't it ironic that the details of the Calusa Lodge parallel the old Mount Plymouth hotel. Built out in the middle of no where Florida, has a small runway for planes, caters to northern money, has secret trap doors, etc.

All the earmarks are there.

Here is a photo from inside the main lobby of the old hotel when it was a school that I attended. In this image looking north through the lobby you can see the stairway Al Capone would have used going straight up to his suite above, and the doorway to the right of it lead into the card room where the mobsters gambled.

Regular hotel guests went in the other direction in the lobby away from the private quarters seen here.



« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 01:54:33 PM by FloridaFishinFool »
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2017, 01:28:34 PM »

And here is the Al Capone house, or the one he visited when in the area owned by Graves Whitmire owner of two Chicago newspapers. Tell me Capone did not have the press in his pocket!

Click on the following image to enlarge it. Notice the main window to the living there on the first floor? Look what stands in between that window and the driveway. It is a huge pile of rocks. Those are the coquina rocks the builder artist Sam Stoltz used to build his homes with in the area, more specifically his artistic chimneys and fireplaces. But why would he pile up a huge pile of rock right there at the front of this house? It makes no sense until you factor in logistics for self defense for a major mobster guest to show up here.

You can not see it in this image, but the driveway is U shaped. A car could pull into the second part of the U and loop the front of the car back around towards the road, and then back up into the covered carport. Then it is clear that pile of rocks was put there to stop bullets from would be snipers trying to take Al Capone out as he got out of and into his car at this house. Look at how high that rock pile is right there.

When you look at the original artwork for this house by the artist there is no pile of rocks in that location. They were added upon completion as a quick way to protect the life of Al Capone.

The door Al Capone used is still there made of pure Florida cypress wood. You can see a little bit of it in the second image.

The bottom line here is that the northern mobsters and big money loved coming to Florida for several reasons, not only the weather and palm trees and golf, fishing and hunting, but Capone used Florida as a way of not being guilty when something happened up north like the Valentine's day massacre. Capone could use Florida as his excuse of being no where around so he had NOTHING to do with it right?

And Capone was investing millions down here buying up land all over the place all the way to Cuba. He was wanting to bring gambling to Florida. He wanted hotels, resorts, golf courses, dog racing, horse racing, whatever he could get his hands into.

He was laundering mob money right here in Florida and turning blood money into clean money and Florida businessmen were right there ready to take every dollar they could get and help the mobsters too!







Here is a rare image of this house right after it was built. Notice there is no addition of a rock wall? That was quickly added when a special guest was to arrive here...

And it is clear this house underwent some serious revisions over the years since being built back in 1926, but the added pile of rocks remains to this day.



Here is the artists drawing of the house. Another interesting detail is seen in these images of how the door Al Capone used to get in and out of this house is actually up off the ground and half hidden behind the house wall and roof itself.

If you can picture in your mind Al Capone's car backed up into this location, the rear door is opened and Al Capone steps out of his car, he will have a car to block bullets on one side, he will have his car door also acting as a shield, and the added rock pile was also in place to block potential bullets, and as Capone would have walked up the steps to enter into this house, his upper body and head would have been hidden behind the wall and roof of the house itself.

Some people went through a lot of trouble and effort right at this one site just to protect the life of one mobster! But he was bankrolling the entire investment venture!

« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 02:03:12 PM by FloridaFishinFool »
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2017, 01:38:30 PM »

I hope you don't come after me!!! LOL

I only do historical research! And it bugs the crap out of me when I can't find something it just makes me dig harder.

Ask anal, he is already on this case too!  ~shhh
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2017, 02:07:07 PM »

I want readers to know that I have included this information about northern money in Florida because I am finding the same features and characteristics showing up in my search for this elusive Calusa Lodge.

So I just wanted ya'll to know I am not getting sidetracked, but merely showing the eerily similar parallel story line I am seeing here. Pieces of the puzzle seem to fit from what I can tell.

Otherwise I just hope this is an interesting read on some long lost Florida history if nothing else.

I am down with the flu right now and have nothing better to do than hammer away on the keyboard.
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2017, 02:26:25 PM »

Many, did you bring back memories on this one.  We would go to Kissimmee to visit my Wife's Aunt and Uncle.  I took my MIL out at one of those old wood shack Fish Camps in St. Cloud, I believe.  Little rental rowboat.  Biggest deal was trying to keep my MIL from standing up, her sense of balance was worse than mine back then.  Lost part of a tackle box of lures when she picked it up to put it on dock when we returned.  Not sure that is a memory I want to remember.
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2017, 02:44:13 PM »

Kissimmee and St. Cloud do have some good old fish camps no doubt! I will have to do some checking there as well. Do you remember the one you went to???

I think I have found a document that really blows this case wide open. It clearly tells the story of what happened to the old lodge.



Apparently the property was turned into a gosh damned trailer park and RV resort!

According to this document, the old lodge is listed as "old restaurant building" along with all the other crap it was developed into. Heck the old 2800 foot runway is now probably home to a bunch of trailers.

What a shame. It went from a glorious old remote hideout fishing and hunting camp to some old folks trailer trash mobile home park. No offense intended by that last remark.

Why can't old Florida historic landmarks be left alone and unmolested?

I may still visit this old place, but I doubt if I would ever be able to stay there. Might be a place to retire to! (Kidding of course)
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2017, 04:57:10 PM »

Another well known dining spot in LakePort is the Calusa Lodge, just South of Harney Pond Canal.

I was surprised to see a post here on this forum today about this same area of Lake Okeechobee. I am going to have to put this area of the lake on my bucket list for sure! It has a long history of big bass producing waters!

http://www.ultimatebass.com/bass-fishing-forum/index.php?topic=134392.msg1474600#msg1474600

Harney Pond...

After an less than stellar day with Robert I went out with another friend and headed to the north end. This was the 1st day of practice for the Pros. Lots of pros launched there as well as us. We were on the water by 7am and headed to an area I had caught some fish last year near the shoal west of the canal.

On my 3rd cast I hooked into and landed a 6lb 8oz Momma. A nice fight and she was in the boat. Picture taken and back in the water. I was using my ole reliable chatterbait over top of the grass.
We drift in closer to the shoal fished the buggy whips fished back out and I caught a 14" then my fish catching ended by 8am.

 I loved the clarity of the water and healthy grass up there. Will be back soon."

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2017, 05:13:50 PM »

Well I was able to finally locate the old airport airstrip used by wealthy northerners to fly in and out of this old lodge. The old airstrip is now littered with mobile homes and is on the north side of hiway 78 while the old lodge I believe is on the South side of the road.

The big bass caught today shown above was caught if I am reading him right on a shoal just west of the entrance there to Harney Pond canal, so he was somewhere just South of the old lodge a stone's throw away from it carrying on the legacy there and not even knowing it!

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Airport+Rd,+Moore+Haven,+FL+33471/@26.9981584,-81.0802846,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x88dc0c1d7b7db893:0x6ec27c2b0285cfb8!8m2!3d26.9981584!4d-81.0759072

Now when you click on the link above for the google map image, look for airport road. Go to satellite earth imaging and you can clearly see the old outline of the 2800 foot airstrip right along side of this road.

Look across hiway 78 and all of that property you see with mobile homes and trailers on it is the location of the old Calusa Lodge which is probably the larger building right behind the Shell gas station today.

Best way to find the old Calusa Lodge building is to start at the old airport strip. Follow the airport road South to 78 and go straight across the road- ruler straight- and you run right into the old lodge building. Staying on a ruler straight course through the lodge goes right down to their old marina and boat canal to the lake for fishing and hunting. Its all right there in front of me now clear as a bell!

If you backup the satellite image you can see the remains of two old canals dug years ago that go in a straight line from the lake to the old lodge property.

Notice how those old canals have been cut off by newer canals dug for flooding and the dike keeping lake levels consistent so surrounding areas are not flooded. The newer canals are dug right through the old canal that must have been used by guests to the old lodge there to get to and from the lake.

Back in those days flooding was a real problem so the lodge had to be far enough away from the lake to stay high and dry, but in order to have boat access to the lake it is clear some old canals were dug just for this old lodge and can still be seen in the satellite image, though now completely cut off and unused today except for fishermen who may not even know why they are there.

But there it is. I do believe the location mystery has now been solved. And thankfully the old lodge is still standing. A lot of them burn to the ground and are never rebuilt, but this one still stands even if it is no longer in use as a fish camp and hunt camp lodge. The history is still there and I plan on checking it out one day with my boys and my boat.

One item of curiosity... if you zoom all the way in on the satellite image to the marina of the old lodge at the lodge end of the canal, what is that frame or framing off to the right side there?

Is that a roofless old roof frame for covering boats tied up underneath it? It looks like winds have blown the roof off years ago and the frame is all that is left. I am not seeing a boat ramp in this marina area. But in the one dug out just South of this one I can see a boat ramp. So at one time this old lodge had two canals to and from the lake unless that second one belonged to someone else. Kind of peculiar both of the old cut-off canals go right back to this same property though.

Is anyone else even interested in old Florida history like this or am I all alone and talking to myself???  :shocking:
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 05:40:18 PM by FloridaFishinFool »
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2017, 05:42:16 PM »

Fishinfool, thanks for all the research.  I enjoyed the read. ~c~
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2017, 02:27:31 PM »

Well, you are bringing back some (good) memories so thanks for that. I can't help much with the location or history but from the looks of things you have located the old Lodge.

Back in 1987 when I was just a wee lad, in my 30's, I worked as an engineer at my first job out of college. I worked on a team that happened to consist of mostly avid bass fisherman. We fished some of the local ponds at lunchtime and after work when we could get away. We decided to go on an adventure to Florida to fish for the big girls and in our research ran across an advertisement for Calusa Lodge. We decided that was the place to go so 5 of us booked a trip for a week. We booked our flights and rooms at Calusa for a February arrival in the late winter of 1987. We left Mass. directly from our office after putting in a half day. We had a bet on who could find the wildest Hawaiian shirt, and we all decided to shave our moustaches off. Don't know why, but we did. We went out for lunch before getting on the plane and drank about 5 Mai Tais each. We continued the festivities into Ft Lauderdale where we rented a car and drove to Calusa. Well there was quite a scene when 5 snow white dandies drunk out of their minds showed up with Hawaiian shirts and even whiter upper lips in the bar at the Lodge, which was as I recall quite lively and filled with quite a variety of local color. The entire bar settled into an uneasy silence when we walked through the door. It did not take long to fit right in and we spent the next week fishing and drinking and having a rollicking good time. The food at the Lodge restaurant was very good, and they were notorious for their steaks. We stayed in the building directly on the end of the canal that you can see on the Google satellite view. At that time it was just a row of tiny rooms with 2 beds stuffed into them and you walked out onto a 4 ft board walkway that had wooden benches, and stepped down onto the dock on the canal. To the left when facing out towards the canal, I recall there was another dock with overhead protection, kind of like an open boathouse, where they kept the boats. That could be what you are seeing on the side - the right side that you referred to facing the other direction. We rented a couple of john boats for the week for something like $40 a day I recall, outfitted with 10hp outboards. The place was very rustic, but clean and very friendly. The fishing was superb. We actually hired a guide for the first day who showed us around that big old lake, and got us onto fish. We spent the rest of the week exploring and learning the lake. We caught fish weighing into the 8-9lb range, I believe someone caught one over 10lbs. Most of the fish if not all were caught on live shiners. That was the best fun, tossing big old shiners to the edge of the hyacinth beds and waiting for them to dance when a big ole bass moved in. Seeing that big old swirl and gulp was incredibly exciting for us novice northerners whose idea of a big bass was 5-6lbs.

We never returned to Calusa to fish although some years later I did stop in with a buddy for dinner one evening while we were there on another trip. I see signs on the internet that lead me to believe that there was still activity at Calusa as recently as 1990. Not sure about that but I believe so.

We never returned to Calusa to fish, but we did spend time at Buckhead Ridge fishing with Tom Frates, who was a legend in that area, and also spent sometime at Roland Martin's place in Clewiston one year.

Again, thanks for the great memories and I hope I have not bored anyone with these old fishing tails.

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2017, 04:43:46 AM »

Thank You for your telling of your personal experiences. That's what makes fishing fun when folks tell their own stories. 
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2017, 08:26:43 PM »

Again, thanks for the great memories and I hope I have not bored anyone with these old fishing tails.

Not at all! Thanks for posting your story! I am sure we all love reading them so I hope you will post some more!
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2017, 01:48:27 AM »

I know that this topic hasn't been added to in quite a while but I couldn't help to add to it a bit from personal experience. I saw that FloridaFishinFool mentioned the exact location of the lodge and he is right, the lodge is still standing as the white building to the west of the Circle K, it's the large white building with two stories.

I used to spend summers in Lakeport, or Calusa as I would call it back in the mid 90's. I can't quite remember the exact year that I started to visit but it would have been somewhere around the age of 9 or 10 so around 1994, 1995. I used to get food at the bar there at the lodge and accompanied my father to the bar many nights. I can still recall all of the various mounts on the wood walls, they had a large grouper head on the wall with a plaque that read "for the big ones fish lake Okeechobee" or something along those lines. There were big cookouts there on some occasions too, with wild pig roasts being the usual.

From the lodge if you drew a straight line south you come to another white building sitting at the end of a crushed shell road. This was a motel that may or may not have been part of the lodge since the bar/lodge didn't have much room, but it was still running when i was a kid. Next to the old motel building there is the open roofed structure that is scene from the aerial view. This was a covered boat house that also had a screened in fish cleaning station on the eastern side of it. I remember climbing out on the docks under the roof and jigging for bluegills and the occasional snake.

The other buildings along CR 721 that butt up to the cove where the boat house was used to be guide businesses. I don't think that they ran out of these buildings, but they acted as cleaning stations since I can recall seeing many duck and alligator around that building on airboats.

I haven't visited there in almost 20 years now since family friends have long since passed. It is cool though to still see the structures standing, including the airstream across from the boathouse, that was owned by my godfather for years.
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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2017, 02:11:02 AM »

reps85,

THANKS!  ~c~

I saw FFF was at the site yesterday.....hope he stops by soon again.
He LOVES history and has shared much of it with us.  ~c~

It is always GREAT to hear first hand experiences from the 'Olden Days'.  lo

Truly though, IT REALLY IS!  ~c~

Almost forgot.......WELCOME TO THE SITE!
I truly HOPE you will share some more GREAT stories with US!  ~c~
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"Fishing isn't life or death... it's more important than that."

Calusa Doug

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Re: Calusa Lodge & A Bass Hall Of Fame...
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2019, 07:29:53 PM »

I was the last bartender at Calusa. The lodge closed for good on October 31, 1999. The last party was 7 days earlier and it was epic! I lived in Lakeport until 2005 when we got tired of being hit by hurricanes, 5 in 2 years. Last I heard there was a bait shop where the bar used to be. I lived in the trailer park at Calusa, The airstrip was across hwy 78 where the cane field is now. As far as I know the bass hall of fame was still there in 2005, including the legendary grouper head and the ball cap wearing hog head! Truly a very unique place! I still miss the good times! Oh, the original building wasn't built until 1945. It was added on to several times and at one point the upstairs above the restaurant was a brothel!
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