"The closest to mineralogically pertinent attraction of this sojourn was probably the Florida Caverns State Park, but alas its cave tours were not offered on Tuesdays (or Wednesdays). Eager to score a post for Mineral Bliss, my next stop was what I thought was Kissimmee, Florida's "Tower of Rocks," which in reality is known as the Monument of States. Currently it sits in the middle of a construction zone adjacent to the library between Main Street and Kissimmee's lakefront.
This 50 foot high pyramidal totem pole like structure, the legacy of its designer, the late Dr. C.W. Bressler-Pettis, extends about 50 foot into the air from an approximately 20 foot base. Its beginnings trace to a letter that Dr. Bressler-Pettis sent in 1942 to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as the governors of all the 48 states then in existence to request at least one rock from each state. A year later, through various means, the doctor had obtained all the rocks that he needed. They ranged from ore specimens to fossils to meteorites to plaques. They were mortared into concrete slabs to comprise the monument. Mortared into additional concrete slabs were various rocks of marginal mineralogical interest selected from approximately 23,000 "specimens" that Dr. Bressler-Pettis and his wife had collected while enjoying a putative 350,000 miles worth of motor vacations. Pursuant to a theme of American unity for World War II, Dr. Bressler-Pettis, who had scrapped his medical career to work as an artist, sculpted a globe with an eagle atop it to cap his monument. The Monument of States was constructed and dedicated in 1943.
Rocks continued to arrive in Kissimmee for years thereafter, even subsequent to Dr. Bressler-Pettis's death in 1954. Courtesy of the citizens of Kissimmee, many were were added to the monument. Included were slabs with rocks from Alaska and Hawaii, in addition to slabs later sent in by businesses and other nations. As a resident of Maryland and keeper of the Maryland Minerals website, I spent quite a bit of time trying to locate at least one Maryland rock. All I could find was a plaque dated 1941 from Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Day of Baltimore." (from (visit link
"The Smithsonian describes it as "an irregular quadrilateral step-pyramid of 21 tiers." The Monument of States in downtown Kissimmee is that technically, but when I saw it up close I was struck by its folk art quirkiness and unusual roughness that somehow made it appealing.
One writer said, "It looks like the top two-thirds of a bowling pin constructed out of five colors of Lego bricks." I can see his point, but rock collectors will probably view it as a shrine to their hobby. Each brick has at least one stone and all together there are about 1500 embedded in concrete. The stones represent every state, plus 21 countries.
Quartz, marble, granite, agate, sandstone, petrified wood, part of a meteor and alabaster are just a few of the rocks and minerals sent to Dr. C.W. Bressler-Pettis who was President of the All States Tourist Club in Kissimmee when he came up with the Monument of States idea. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the doctor wrote letters to every governor and President Franklin Roosevelt asking them to send him rocks "as a symbol of unity in the dark days of WWII."
In 1943, the specimens were mortared into the odd-shaped pyramid. In addition to the rocks, the slabs of concrete are inscribed with the governor’s or donor’s name and location. (I couldn’t find one from President Roosevelt, however).
The Monument of States is a classic pre-Disney tourist attraction that still has appeal if only as an oddball, one-of-a-kind architectural curiosity. Your own curiosity might draw you there just to see what the governor of your state sent down to Kissimmee in the early 1940's.
Just down the street, toward Lake Toho, is the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial and sculpture placed there by the local Filipino-American community as a tribute to the Americans and Filipinos who lost their lives during WWII. On the ground in front of the statue there are hundreds of bricks with the names of those who died.
As I was putting my camera away my peripheral vision caught something coming across the road vaguely toward me. To my utter delight three tall Florida sandhill cranes were loping along, taking their own sweet time crossing a fairly busy road to get to the Toho public park. It was about 1pm—lunchtime for cranes? Yep, I was right. As soon as they walked into the shade, stopping at what seemed like their usual snacking ground,- two of them put their heads down into the grass and started grubbing for small insects. The third preened and groomed the whole time.
My biggest surprise was that they let me come in to about six feet away. Maybe I could have gone in closer but they have very sharp-looking bills. Also, I didn’t want to spook them and have them take flight. Though not a birder…yet…I can see how people become entranced with bird behavior. I took at least 40 pictures and left not because I was bored, but it was time to see what was down at the big lake.
Lake Toho is a birder’s paradise. In my short trip I spotted Muscovy ducks, moorhens, cormorants, anhinga, a very focused osprey sitting on a piling scanning the lake looking for his lunch too. There had to be at least another dozen types of birds that I didn't recognize. So, once back in Orlando, I ordered three Florida bird books. I guess I'll turn into a birder after all.
This is another perfect family outing—the Monument, Lake Toho for bird watching, fishing, boating, jogging or strolling along the lakeside path or enjoying an ice cream cone from the big red caboose that sits near the playground. The playground is one of the best I've seen because it includes a large covered area so kids can stay out of the sun or rain.
To get there I took I-4 from Orlando getting off at the 192 exit. Big mistake. I took 441 back into town and that took half the time. The weather is beautiful so there's no excuse to not get out and enjoy all the free stuff in historic downtown Kissimmee." (from (visit link