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Best Place to Get Shipwrecked Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2012 - Trapper Nelson's at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Trapper Nelson\'s at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Trapper Nelson's at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

16450 Southeast Federal Highway

Hobe Sound, FL 33455

772-546-2771

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They really need to make a movie about Vincent Nostokovich, AKA Trapper Nelson. According to legend, he grew up trapping muskrats in New Jersey during the industrial revolution. He ran away from home to Mexico but was arrested by Federales for gunrunning. So he headed back East with ten cents to his name, grew that into a living wage by gambling, and landed in South Florida. With a loan, he bought vast swaths of land — 800 acres eventually — where he trapped animals and sold their fur and meat. Weird rumors about him abounded — he could eat 18 eggs for breakfast, he dined on raw 'possum — but his reputation soared when he turned his land into a tourist stop and zoo and began wrestling alligators. Next thing, the six-foot-four beefcake was nicknamed "Tarzan of the Loxahatchee River" and started dating beautiful heiresses. He married but was drafted for World War II. Upon his return, he found his wife cheating and his tax bills piling up. He went cuckoo, chasing visitors from his land and becoming a recluse. Nelson was found dead in 1968 with a gunshot wound to his stomach. Was it suicide, as authorities ruled, or was he murdered? Conspiracy theorists have noted that men wanted his girlfriends, thieves wanted his treasure (rangers in 1984 found coins stashed in his chimney), and the government wanted his land — which it eventually got and made part of Jonathan Dickinson State Park. You're not supposed to camp here, but tour boats and canoes make pit stops. If you visit, see if the trapper's ghost will tell you the truth — locals have reported multiple sightings.

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