If you have driven I-4 in Florida from Tampa to Orlando then you have seen a sign for Ocoee, FL. For those of us from southeast Tennessee this is a bit perplexing. The word Ocoee is a Cherokee word meaning “apricot place” or “passion flower” and is very distinctive to the Ocoee River in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. So why is there a place in Florida with the same name? Well here is why.

After the end of the Civil War a native of Tennessee, Captain Bluford M. Sims, settled in Florida. Bluford purchased land and established the first citrus nursery in the United States. This section of land that Sims used to grow his citrus is now the location of downtown Ocoee, Florida. Bluford and other residence of the area created the town of Ocoee. They decided to name the area Ocoee after the Ocoee River in Tennessee. To this day the Ocoee, FL logo is inspired by the passion flower, which is the Cherokee translation for Ocoee.

So, now you know how a place in Florida was named after a river in Tennessee with Cherokee origins.