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Braving the Legend of Dead River at Wild Florida

The story – legend, rather – goes something like this...

It is believed that in 1913, two cowboys rode into one of the rivers that feeds into Lake Cypress (yes, the very wetlands we take our airboat tours on) to look for their two cracker cows that had gone missing. They never returned, and legend has it that a 20-foot alligator attacked and killed them during their search. 

Lake Cypress, the lake that surrounds our Gator and Wildlife Park and airboat dock, encompasses 4,200 acres, with more than 200 lakes throughout Central Florida feeding into it, hence the many tributaries at its base. So it's no surprise that two cracker cows and their cowboys got lost in our swamp all those years ago.

To pay tribute to this legend, our founder, Ranier Munns, commissioned a 20-ft metal alligator skeleton that would be housed on the grounds of Wild Florida. Chuck May, owner of Metal Magic Creations of Leesburg, Florida, was up to the challenge. 

 the legend of dead river

After about 350 hours of work, the skeleton was complete. It weighs somewhere between 400 and 600 pounds and is precisely 20-feet long as requested by Ranier. The feet have about 54 joints and pieces that had to be welded together, and all the teeth had to be hand ground out of solid steel — a process that took about a day and a half.

Interested in seeing this giant gator for yourself? Come on out to Wild Florida and visit the Gator and Wildlife Park. You can book a 30-minute or 1-hour airboat tour and receive free admission to the park. Just think, you can glide across the same waters the real Dead River alligator once called home. Maybe you'll spot a distant relative of his, too! You never know...

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