During World War II, the U.S. military leased 12,000 acres of cattle range near Orlando, Fla., to use as the Pinecastle Jeep Range, a munitions demonstration and training facility. From the military’s point of view, the Pinecastle Jeep Range was in a great location. Military exercises could be conducted throughout the winter, and if the blazing heat, biting insects, and poisonous snakes of summer weren’t exactly desirable, they would at least help keep trainees on their toes. After the war, the army tidied up a bit before handing the site back to its original owners, with the friendly advice that it might be best to leave certain areas undeveloped in the future.
But the future brought some big changes, including air conditioning, large-scale mosquito control, Disney World, and hordes of retirees. In time, the old Jeep Range—which had once seemed suitable for nothing more than raising cattle—began to sprout houses and, eventually, the Odyssey Middle School.
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