The one attraction in Kissimmee that’s actually off the beaten track.
The Kissimmee Monument of States long predates the 1970s growth of tourism in Osceola County, yet at its heart it’s Kissimmee’s first purposely-built attraction.
The monument was begun in 1942 and completed in 1943. While it was built in the midst of WWII, in true Florida fashion, it was hoped that it would be a unique destination for tourists. It was developed by Charles W. Bressler-Pettis who was president of the Kissimmee All-States Tourist Club. Officially the monument was created as a response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and encouraged solidarity amongst the states.
Once the project was planned Pettis wrote to each state governor requesting a rock to represent the state. Partly designed by J. C. Fisher, a friend of Pettis, the final monument included not only the official state rocks, but rocks from Pettis’ own collection. When completed, the monument weighed some 100,000 pounds and contained rocks and other objects from around the world,
Charles Pettis died in 1954 and the City of Kissimmee allowed part of his remains in the monument. In 1993 the city added a time capsule to the monument as well. It’s been restored a few times including by the American Automobile Association (AAA). In 2015 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The monument continues to be a minor attraction in downtown Kissimmee, but it’s all but ignored by the millions who visit Walt Disney World.
The reverse of each postcard in the collection states the following statistics: The monument is comprised of 1500 stones. The stones represent 45 state governors (I believe that newer states have been added) and 21 foreign countries. The base is 22 feet (6.7 m.) on each side, it’s 50 feet (15.24 m.) high and weighs 600,000 lbs (272 metric tons).
Images above are from various postcards and photos from 2016.