When people think of pioneers, they most frequently recall the gold rush days, families traveling by caravan to California. But pioneers existed all over the country and the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, on forty pristine acres in northwest Florida, is filled with restored buildings that are used by enthusiastic tour guides to demonstrate the ways of pioneer farmstead living that were unique to this forgotten area of the United States.
It was a simpler time. That’s what is often said about the pioneer days. Without the technology we have today and the feelings of being tethered to work at all hours through phones, email, and other gadgets. But it couldn’t have been that simple. And the working museum exhibits at the Settlement show that: there are Blacksmith classes, lessons in how to produce your own maple syrup and Tupelo honey, and teachers showing visitors how to make their own hand-crafted artisan goods.
Envisioned by founders Willard and Linda Smith as a place where people could come and revisit the values and traditions from the pioneer days that were being lost in our modern culture, the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement has built up a dedicated group of volunteers and supporters. Since opening in July 1989, the Settlement has slowly added buildings and materials, growing to the compound it is today.