The area that is now the town of Immokalee was once inhabited by the Calusa Indians. Centuries later, the Seminole Indians set up temporary camps on the high prairie land during their seasonal hunting expeditions, recognizing early on what an ideal location Collier County was for hunting, gathering and farming.
The first permanent settlement was established in 1873, and over the years, several well-known history figures settled in the area, such as William Allen, the Carsons, the Wilksons and William Brown, Indian trader. The federal government officially recognized the area as a community in 1897, calling it “Allen’s Place” after settler William Allen. Prior to Allen’s arrival, the region was known as Gopher Ridge by the Miccosukee Indians. Later, the community was renamed Immokalee, the Seminole word for “my home.”
Immokalee, a relatively isolated community, saw a slow population growth until 1921 when the Atlantic Coast Line Railway extended its service and opened a direct overland route to both trade and communication. When Collier County was created in 1923, more growth was made possible by Barron G. Collier’s efforts to provide a highway and railroad from Immokalee to the county seat of Everglades City.
Over the next twenty years, the industries of lumber and oil production merged with Immokalee’s famed ranching industry, further fastening Immokalee’s position as a leader in agriculture and production. Today, Immokalee is one of Collier County’s largest non-coastal communities and residents are continually looking toward the future.
The legacy left behind by the Seminoles has become a part of the community’s everyday life. The Seminole Indians pride themselves on being the “unconquered tribe of Florida,” having left behind the Seminole Casino and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in their wake.