De Soto Trail kiosk

In July, 2007, the City was approached by the National Park Service (NPS) regarding the placement of a De Soto Trail commemorative kiosk in Plant City. According to NPS literature in 2007:

The Florida De Soto Trail commemorates the journey of Hernando de Soto and his army through the state of Florida. The original Trail started from the grounds of De Soto National Memorial (a NPS site) and went to the Georgia State line.

Unfortunately, the Trail has steadily declined in its use and effectiveness since its original design and implementation in 1985. Trail signs used to be located at five-mile intervals along with roadside exhibits that allowed the motorist to trace De Soto's route through Florida. There was also a trail brochure, last produced in 1989, which has been long out of print. Originally, there were 14 roadside kiosks with site specific interpretation of the expedition. Today, only 11 remain in varying states of disrepair.

In an attempt to reach more people with this story, the Florida Park Service along with the NPS and the Office of Greenways and Trails are working together to realign this trail, making it historically accurate, and to incorporate public spaces such as greenways, local, state and federal public lands and to no longer have the trail be exclusively an auto trail. This project would continue to incorporate major interpretive nodes as the original Trail did, but would also provide opportunities for smaller stories to be told in many, many, more locations as local site specific partners can be brought on board with this project.
After consulting with Dr. Jerald Milanch who authored the book "Hernando de Soto and the Indians of Florida" and based on his and Dr. Charles Hudson's research, we have located approximately 40 site locations throughout Florida in which possible kiosks can be located for the newly created De Soto Trail.

Plant City is an important location relative to the De Soto Trail. "On July 16, 1539, the army travels eastward to the "Lake of the Rabbit", named after the rabbit that suddenly jumped up and startled the horses, creating a horse stampede." The army was headed toward Urriparacoxi's village where Gallegos had gone. The Mount Enon Mound east-northeast of Plant City has produced glass beads, although the age of the beads is uncertain.

In 2009, the project was narrowed to 34 kiosks and the Plant City location was determined to be at Mike Sansone Park. In an effort to give it the highest visibility and foot traffic, it was decided to place the kiosk, with 2 panel shown below, adjacent to the Tourist Information Center, 1702 North Park Road, near the entrance to Mike Sansone Park.The kiosk was installed by the National Park Service in March, 2011.

GPS Coordinates: Lat: 28o 01' 47.70" N Long: 82o 06' 16.60" W