NAME: Prairie Ridge
COUNTY: Okeechobee
CLIMATE: hot and humid in the summer, otherwise warm during the day, cool at night
COMMENTS: No current residents. The Prairie Ridge area is now partially within Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park; US 98 to Durance Road, north to 240, follow 240 west to the Park. The sand road ending next to the Park entrance is the Peavine Trail.
REMAINS: Peavine Trail, old building, partial wooden tower, possible foundations in amongst the prairie lands
Prior to 1910, an organization of mid-western businessmen called the Southern Colonization Company purchased a 36 square mile tract of land in the lower Kissimmee River valley. It was believed that the prairie lands would be perfect for farming. The land was platted, and a development team set up a hotel and demonstration farm. Prospective buyers came down the Kissimmee River, were picked up in wagons, and taken around to look over the land. Nathan Hazeleiff of Okeechobee remembers his grandfather’s selling orange trees to those developers. "They would plant them, then drive the city folk around and around, passing the same group of trees from different angles." The standard tract sold was ten acres, as the project was planned for small farmers. The buyers were promised that a railroad would soon be built into the area. The Southern Colonization Company entered into a contract to build a railroad from Kenansville to a point called Prairie Ridge, about 12 miles north of Basinger, by the end of June, 1916. Original plans called for the South Florida and Gulf Railroad to extend to Basinger, and possibly Okeechobee, but it never got any farther than Prairie Ridge. For a time, the train arrived at Prairie Ridge every Saturday and Basinger residents drove wagon teams to the depot to pick up supplies. It soon became apparent to the Prairie Ridge area settlers that the wire grass, palmettos, ponds and swamps were better suited for cattle than for farms, reducing the need for a railroad. Train service was discontinued and the rails were sold at a financial loss. The railroad bed became a sand road and is today known as the Peavine Trail. Submitted by: Jim Pike

Prairie Ridge
Courtesy Jim Pike

Old building, possibly the original railroad depot
Courtesy Jim Pike

Remains of wooden observation tower
Courtesy Jim Pike

Peavine Trail running alongside the state park border
Courtesy Jim Pike