The Florida Museum and the University of Florida established the Randell Research Center (RRC) at Pineland as a permanent research and education facility in 1996, building on over twelve years of archaeological, ecological, and historical research and education in Southwest Florida.
The RRC was made possible by a generous donation by Donald and Patricia Randell of over 50 acres of the internationally significant Pineland archaeological site, once a major town of the native Calusa Indians. The Pineland site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Lee County historical resource.
The mission of the RRC is to learn and teach the archaeology, history, and ecology of Southwest Florida. Public response has been enthusiastic and supportive, and the RRC’s Calusa Heritage Trail (described below) is annually voted Best Tourist Attraction by readers of the Pine Island Eagle newspaper. Over 8,000 school children, citizens, and tourists visit the Trail annually. The site is also a designated stop on Lee County’s Great Calusa Blueway, a marked canoe and kayak trail. A picnic area is available, as are handicap-accessible public restrooms, a teaching pavilion, and a book and gift shop.
The Pineland site is located on the northwestern shore of Pine Island at 13810 Waterfront Drive, Pineland, across the street from the Tarpon Lodge and Restaurant (GPS address: 13810 Waterfront Drive, Bokeelia, Florida 33922). The RRC’s offices are located in the historic Ruby Gill House at 7450 Pineland Road, next door to the Pineland post office.
Pineland was a Calusa Indian town for over 1,500 years. Enormous shell mounds still overlook Pine Island Sound. Remains of many centuries of Indian village life blanket the old pastures and groves. Remnants of an ancient Calusa canal that reached 2.5 miles across Pine Island sweep through the complex. Sand burial mounds still stand in the woods. Historic structures of Florida’s early pioneer period still exist. Native plants and animals characteristic of coastal hammocks, pinelands, wetlands, and shell mounds are abundant.
Portions of the Pineland site are accessible to the public on the Calusa Heritage Trail, a 3,700-foot interpretive walking path that winds among and over the mounds, wetlands, and canal. The Trail includes museum-quality signs and wayside benches, as well as stairways to the top of both primary shell mounds, observation platforms atop the tallest mound, and a bridge and boardwalk over low-lying areas. Most of the trail is paved with reduced concrete, although portions are mulched. At the trailhead, a parking area accommodating 32 cars and two buses, and including two additional handicap parking spaces, provides access to an inclined walkway leading to an activity pavilion, wheelchair-accessible public restrooms, and a classroom and gift shop. The classroom and shop opened in January 2007. Since its inauguration in December 2004, the Calusa Heritage Trail has hosted more than 80,000 visitors, including families, school children, and tour groups.
You are invited to join the Friends of the Randell Research Center. By means of financial and volunteer support, Friends actively promote archaeological and environmental research and education in Southwest Florida. All Friends of the RRC receive a quarterly newsletter. Supporters at higher levels are entitled to discounts on our books and merchandise, advance notice of programs, and special recognition. You can join for $30 per year, $15 if you are a student. Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by federal law.
Your support will help us conduct more research, reach more visitors, and get new knowledge out to everyone.
Friends of the Randell Research Center receive:
Individual ($30) and Student ($15): quarterly Newsletter
Family ($50): Newsletter + advance notice and 10% discount on children’s programs
Contributor ($100-$499): The above + annual honor roll listing in newsletter + 10% discount on RRC publications and merchandise
Sponsor ($500-$999): The above + invitation to annual Director’s tour and reception
Supporter ($1,000-$4,999): The above + listing on annual donor plaque at Pineland
Sustaining Members ($5,000-$19,999), Benefactors ($20,000-$99,999), and Patrons ($100,000 and above): All of the above + free RRC publications and special briefings from the Director.
To join, please send your name and address and your check made out to University of Florida Foundation to: Randell Research Center, PO Box 608, Pineland, FL 33945. Thank you.
The Florida Museum and the University of Florida are committed to establishing a permanent research and education facility at Pineland that will serve Southwest Florida. To this end, they have raised funds, secured grants, created a public learning and teaching center at the Pineland site.
Endowment funds in the amount of $3,000,000, in partnership with already-existing commitments from the University of Florida and the Florida Museum of Natural History, will permanently establish the Randell Research Center at Pineland and allow its learning and teaching programs to grow and prosper. Less than $600,000 remains to be raised.
Income from the RRC Endowment will help support:
Facilities and equipment
Research projects and public programs
Mail your gift to:
Randell Research Center
PO Box 608
Pineland, Florida 33945