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A great natural curiosity, called the "The Deadening" exists at and about Fort Meade, covering a tract of country some ten miles or more from north to south, and some five or six miles from east to west, being divided by Peace River. When the first settlers came, in the fifties, they found the whole tract entirely divested of living trees, except along the water courses and on the higher knolls. Lying prone on the ground or standing erect, like neglected and forsaken sentinels, were the solid remains of what had years before been a vigorough growth of pine.

The cause of this destruction of the trees is utterly unknown. Various theories have been adduced, but none are fully satisfactory. G. W. Hendry claims hail to have been the agent of destruction, but this theory is untenable from the fact that no hail-storm was ever known to cover such an extent of territory, and besides hail-storms are unknown here. It will also be noted that the trees on the highest knolls along the water courses, and in the lower lands were untouched. Other claim high water to have been the cause. The most probable explanation is that several wet seasons prevented the usual forest fires, permitting the dead grass and leaves of the trees to accumulate in great abundance. then came a very dry season, fire raged throughout the forest, and its intense heat killed the trees. Whatever the cause, the country assumed the appearance of the Western prairies. Since the first settlement, vigorous growths of oak and pine are springing up over the whole area of these, the choicest of lands, and were it not for the rapidly increasing settlements and groves it would soon be forest again.

[Source: Homeland; a description of the climate, productions, resources, topography, soil, opportunities, attractions, advantages, development and general characteristics of Polk County, Florida. By Sherman Adams, 1885.; Tigner, Tatum & Company, Bartow, Florida. Transcribed by Sheila Pitts Massie, Coordinator.]

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