Rattlesnake Headquarters

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rattlesnake headquarters

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what do you do when life gives you rattlesnakes? If you're George End, you make canned "Rattlesnake in Supreme Sauce."

Unable to find a job up north, End came down to Florida in the 1930's to try farming. He first settled near Arcadia but, as he would later tell the Tampa Tribune, "The rattlesnakes were more prolific than the crops I planted." End turned that to his advantage, inventing a way to can rattlesnake meat to sell across the country to epicures with a taste for the exotic. His "Rattlesnake in Supreme Sauce" was a hit, and he soon needed to expand to meet demand. In 1937 he moved his canning operation to Tampa and opened a combination canning plant and reptilorium tourist attraction near the eastern end of the Gandy Bridge. To deal with the volume of shipping, and to get on the map, he also opened a Post Office there and the town of Rattlesnake, Florida was born.

End's Rattlesnake Headquarters made use of every part of the snakes: he used them live in his snakepit to attract tourists, milked them for venom to sell to antivenin manufacturers, sold snakeskins to be made into various other products, and marketed the meat through his canning operation and the sale of smoked "Snake Snacks." Everything was going great until one day in 1944 when the snakes, literally, struck back.

End was working with a large Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake when the snake got loose and managed to deliver a fatal bite. Despite attempts to treat him with antivenin, End met his end in the hospital a few hours later.

End's widow sold the snake business, including End's recipes and equipment, to Ross Allen, who moved the operation up to his Reptile Institute at Silver Springs and continued to manufacture canned Rattlesnake in Supreme Sauce into the 1960's. The City of Tampa eventually annexed the Rattlesnake area and, in the mid-1950's, the post office moved operations to Interbay and the Rattlesnake, Fla. postmark was eliminated.

rattlesnake cannery

Note: the attractions profiled on this site are no longer in business.

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