In 1885 inventor Thomas Alva Edison was cruising Florida’s west coast and stopped to visit Fort Myers. He soon bought 13 acres along the Caloosahatchee River because numerous bamboo trees grew there. He was using the bamboo fiber in his light bulbs, which he now had to import from Africa. Here he built his home, Seminole Lodge, as a winter retreat.
With WWI approaching, Edison and Ford worried about rubber production, and although most rubber was made in England, the US bought 70% of the world’s rubber. Edison planted many types of trees and plants from which he could extract latex, a key ingredient of rubber.
He built a laboratory to test over 17,000 plant samples he and his staff collected in his quest to find a way to produce rubber in the United States. His lab was preserved:
In 1927 he planted this banyan tree which produces a white milky sap (latex) which can be used in the production of rubber:
This is all one tree which was planted from a single 14″ stem.
This Brown Woolly Fig tree was planted in 1928, and now stands 102 feet high and 305 inches in circumference:
Arn’t those roots cool?
In 1916, automobile magnate Henry Ford purchased the home next door to Edison’s. We took a guided tour of both homes.
Instead of walking through the houses, you peered in through the outside windows.
Tidbit of Information: For a short period, Henry Ford worked at the Edison Illuminating Company. On an occasion of Edison visiting the plant, Henry Ford showed him his prototype of a gasoline engine. Edison gave Henry encouragement in pursuing the project. Henry, shortly thereafter, left the employ of Edison to form a motor company.
In the early 1900’sFord and Edison took many road trips. In Ford’s garage on this estate was the first “RV” made for these trips:
It was a box containing food and cooking supplies on the back of a Model T. Notice the water spigot on the side. Thank you Henry, otherwise I would not be traveling the Country.