Week 9: The Fish Camps

This week I finally finished up writing the metadata for year 1967. In this year of documents, I came across a photo from the Orlando Sentinel:


The photo shows the docks of Tom’s Fish Camp, on the shores of Lake Apopka near Montverde, in 1967. The camp’s in a state of disrepair – the sportfishing industry declined sharply in the 1960s, as algae and scum began choking the game fish out of the lake.

Researching this camp for the metadata entry revealed a few interesting things. Here’s a photo of the docks during the 1940s:


A lot better days for Tom’s Camp! The 1940s were the sportfishing glory days for Lake Apopka. The archives have dozens if not hundreds of photos of fish camp visitors holding up huge strings of bass. I claimed in an earlier post that Cary Grant visited the lake – this was incorrect. It’s actually claimed that Clark Gable visited Lake Apopka, though it’s difficult to substantiate this claim.

But IF Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart visited Lake Apopka to fish, they would have stayed here:

The Edgewater Hotel in Winter Garden, est. 1927. Photo from here: http://www.puppetkit.com/c/80

That link gives more information about the hotel. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any documents about the hotel in the archives, but the Edgewater would have been the nicest hotel by far in the area at this time. It’s still there in Winter Garden today, right on the main street through town.

Back to Tom’s Fish Camp –


That’s a photo of the cabins at the camp, also from the 1940s. I’m not sure if visitors stayed overnight in these cabins, or simply used them for day visits. My research also turned up this article from Orlando Sentinel, dated 2005:


That article discusses the purchase of the camp property by a private owner. The owner had the cabins removed. Where did they go? One was given to the town of Montverde to be used as a museum. One was given to a local Montverde family with an interest in the camp’s history.

The last cabin? It was donated to the Oakland Nature Preserve, the home of these archives. You can see it as you drive in!

Here’s a current photo:


It’s a little hard to tell which cabin this is from the 1940s photo, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s that cabin on the far left. I’ll be taking some more photos of the cabin from other angles next time I visit the preserve to better determine this. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to enter the cabin, but I’d like to try and get some interior photos as well.

According to some sources, this cabin was built in the early 1900s! And here it is over a hundred years later.

Week 9: The Fish Camps

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