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You guys are the BEST! It's as simple as that. Our school is now bat-free and we couldn't be happier!
- Jennifer C., Largo, FL
St. Cloud is a city in northern Osceola County, Florida, United States. It is located on the southern shore of East Lake Tohopekaliga in Central Florida, approximately 26 miles (41.8km) southeast of Orlando. The city population was 35,183 in the 2010 census, and 40,918 in the 2013 census estimate. The city is part of the OrlandoKissimmeeSanford metropolitan area.
St. Cloud was founded as a retirement community for Civil War union veterans, and gained the nickname "The Friendly Soldier City".
During the 1870s, Hamilton Disston of Philadelphia took an interest in developing the region while on fishing trips with Henry Shelton Sanford, founder of the city of Sanford. Disston contracted with the Florida Internal Improvement Fund, then in receivership, to pay $1 million to offset its Civil War and Reconstruction debt. In exchange, Disston would be awarded half the land he drained from the state's swamps. He dug canals and, in 1886-1887, established St. Cloud sugarcane plantation, named after St. Cloud, Minnesota, although many long-time locals state the town was named after Saint-Cloud, France, located fairly close to Paris.
Diston opened the Sugar Belt Railway to the South Florida Railroad in 1888 to carry his product to market. But the Panic of 1893 dropped land values, and the Great Freeze of 1894-1895 ruined the plantation. Disston returned to Philadelphia, where he died in 1896. The Sugar Belt Railway merged into the South Florida Railroad. An attempt to cultivate rice in the area failed, and for several years the land remained fallow. Then in 1909, 35,000 acres (14,000ha) were acquired by the Seminole Land & Investment Company as the site for a Grand Army of the Republic veterans' colony. St. Cloud was selected because of its "health, climate and productiveness of soil." It was first permanently settled in 1909 by William G. King, a real estate manager from Alachua County who had been given the responsibility "to plan, locate and develop a town."
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