Oh, what a lovely thing is this perspective! - Paolo Uccello


Lake Eola

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Lake Eola 3

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Orlando Urban Trail

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Baldwin Park

Lake Baldwin 1

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Lake Baldwin Trail View 8





Seminole Wekiva Trail

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Seminole Wekiva Trail 2

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Little Econ Greenway Trail

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Hannibal Square

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West Orange Trail, Oakland

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Sparkling Water Lake, Clermont

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West Orange Trail, Clarcona Horseman's Park






Orange County Regional History Center

Orlando's Orange County Regional History Center, set in the former 1927 Orange County Courthouse, inspires explorers of all ages to discover a world they've never seen before on this dynamic, interactive journey through Central Florida's colorful and surprising past.

In addition to the History Center, is Heritage Square, an outdoor, tree lined park that accommodates special events, art festivals and concerts. The beautiful setting also includes some icons of Orlando's past such as bronze statues of alligators and a 15 foot high postcard depicting Central Florida's past.

Bunk Baxter and Alligator Statue

Over the span of many years folks in Orlando have been showing a photo of gator wrestler Bunk Baxter and telling stories about the enterprising Cracker who brought his "pet alligator" to Orlando on Saturdays for a bit of staged gator wrestling to entertain folks along dusty Pine Street. The 1884 photo of Baxter grinning for the crowd and holding up the head of the trussed-up reptile has become an icon, and one of the most reproduced images of life in early Orlando.

When the 1927 Orange County (originally known as Mosquito County) Courthouse was restored and renovated to become the Orange County Regional History Center, a bronze statue of the gator wrestler was made and placed in the courtyard near the front entrance, but it seems like there's been just a little historic revisionism. First, the bronze Bunk is sitting on is a much bigger reptile, and this time, it's an alligator. And, that man in the well known photo and the bronzed statue might not even be Bunk Baxter.

There's a fair number of the Yates family in Osceola County and the Christmas area of east Orange County who say that man in the photo is John Burl "Bud" Yates II. Bud Yates, born in 1875, and his family would drive an ox-team from the Christmas area to Orlando.

Eve Bacon, author of Orlando, A Centennial History, wrote that town and country folk came together on Saturdays in the early 1890s and were entertained by Bud Yates, who also performed with an alligator on downtown streets. Yates, she writes, would wrestle with his gator for the crowd's amusement and hold its mouth open so people could look down its throat.

Bud Yates died in 1923 when he caught a case of measles on a cattle drive to Merritt Island. Baxter passed away the same year.

Baxter's real first name was Francis, but that's no name for a gator wrestler in what was boom-town Orlando for ranch workers and farmers who would come into town to do their Saturday shopping and let off a little steam. "Bunk" was a much better name.

Baxter ran a downtown meat store that sometimes sold alligator hides he had skinned. But he knew how to put on a show, and his wife, Mary, was known to wrap a dead 8-foot rattlesnake around her as she held the shotgun she used to kill it.

Orange County Regional History Center 2

Orange County Regional History Center 1