With twisty mangrove tunnels and eerie waterways with names like “Alligator Creek,” the Watson Place campground in Everglades National Park fits right in. The Watson Place campground is the former home of Florida’s notorious outlaw and sugar cane plantation owner, Edgar Watson, known for killing his workers rather than paying them. The story goes that Mr. Watson was gunned down at the site by fed-up residents in 1910. As a result, some locals believe the site is haunted.
In addition to its outlaw history, the Watson Place campground is a prime example of a Calusa shell mound. The Calusa tribe lived in the Everglades before European settlers brought diseases and destroyed their villages. They would collect shells, placing them together into large mounds, essentially creating small islands within the swampy environment.
Located along the Chatham River, the Watson Place campground is a large site that can accommodate groups. The open space is surrounded by dense vegetation that provides a remote feel at this boat-in only site. A wooden dock allows for easy access and a great spot to watch dolphins swim by as the sun sets.
This is a fantastic spot to spend a night or two, but before you spend any time here learn a bit about the history of this place. It's a little mysterious and a tad creepy, but it certainly makes staying here more interesting especially if you have an active imagination.
The site itself has a wooden dock that makes it easy to access the island. I always canoe or kayak to this destination and pull my boats on shore, but if you're in a motorized boat there is space to dock. There is a weird cistern that collects fresh water and some say you can find an alligator residing here though I have never seen one in all my trips here.
There is a small flat clearing area where you can pitch your tents. The island is certainly a bit larger but rather overgrown. It can be a popular destination so secure your permit as soon as you can.