Polk County has long been the epicenter to one of Florida’s largest agricultural industries – citrus.
In fact, Lakeland’s Florida Southern College has one of two degree programs in the country dedicated to the horticultural science of citrus.
In honor of this legacy, the Florida Air Museum has joined The Citrus Label Tour of Polk County, a partnership between the Polk County History Center and Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. The Citrus Label Tour of Polk County is a driving experience that explores the historic marketing of citrus through the artistic labels that once adorned the old wooden crates used to ship fresh fruit to northern markets in the 1900s.
Citrus Labels as Art
The artistic labels were also a form of colorized billboards for Florida, depicting historical sites and events, native heritage, local flora and fauna, and an array of vistas to entice not only citrus buyers but also potential visitors to the state. Converging aviation and agricultural history, Aerospace Discovery is displaying the iconic NC-4 Brand label.
Produced in 1919 by the Florence Citrus Growers Association of Polk County, the label commemorates the NC flying boats that were designed to fly across the Atlantic. Too late for WWI, the NCs still took up the challenge of traversing the Atlantic by air. On May 27, 1919, the Navy’s NC-4 made the first successful transatlantic flight, a milestone in history that brought great acclaim to Naval Aviation.
A Lasting Legacy
Located on the corner of James C. Ray Drive and Tom Mack Drive, this exhibit is dedicated in honor of SUN ‘n FUN Pioneer and Citrus Hall of Fame Inductee, Dr. Thomas B. Mack. When SUN ‘n FUN opened their new site in 1977, Dr. Mack designed the landscaping that greeted each visitor. Many of those original plantings exist today and are maintained by a group of volunteers known as the Flower Babes.
Keep an eye out for the beautiful sign the next time you are on campus and to see more of what the tour has to offer, download the map and get set to explore!