The infamous Trapper Nelson’s ghost reportedly haunts the calm interior waters of the Loxahatchee River. Many years ago, in the 1930’s until the 1960’s, a gigantic man who stood almost six and a half feet tall, weighing 240 pounds, lived deep in uninhabited beauty of the Loxahatchee River and Jonathon Dickinson State Park. His given name was Vincent Nostokovich and was born in Trenton, New Jersey. This man was the modern day “Croc Hunter - Steve Irwin” and was described as the “wild man, of the Loxahatchee River”.
Trapper Nelson built his cabin and a zoo deep up the Loxahatchee River into the interior of the Northern Everglades. He was a hunter and only killed what he would eat. He caught so many creatures, like panthers and alligators; he drew visitors from far and wide. Tourists and celebrities including Gary Cooper and Gene Tunney visited the flamboyant trapper at his 800 acre campsite to watch him wrestle alligators.
It was rumored that Trapper Nelson was such a good looking man, that the ladies were quite taken with him as well. As the story has been told, ladies would hire guides to take them up the Loxahatchee River to Trapper Nelson’s campsite for private rendezvous. Trapper enjoyed engaging the ladies as much as he liked the thrill of wrestling the alligators!
On June 24, 1968, an acquaintance found Trapper Nelson dead inside his cabin with a shotgun hole in stomach. The coroner ruled it suicide, figuring Trapper thought he was dying of cancer and ended his life rather than suffer. To this day, many locals continue to believe Trapper died at the hands of a jealous husband. Stories of ghost sightings around Trapper Nelson’s cabin and original campsite prevail…but it’s all in good fun!
Jonathon Dickinson State Park offers the unique historical site of Trapper’s Nelson’s site. This site is only accessible by water. You may canoe or take the Loxahatchee Queen II. You can be met by a Park Ranger and be guided through the cabins and grounds or take a leisurely stroll on a self guided tour of the grounds. Take a trip out and take a step back in time on the beautiful and wild Loxahatchee River!