YEEHAW JUNCTION, Florida – A semi-tractor trailer hauling orange juice crashed into the historic Desert Inn and Restaurant in Yeehaw Junction, Florida around 3:15 a.m. on Sunday, December 22, 2019.
The Desert Inn once served as a bar and brothel to Florida cowboys and lumber workers beginning in the late 1800s.
While the brothel operation ceased decades ago, the Desert Inn continued to remain open for more than a century, most recently as a restaurant and tourist attraction before finally closing its doors in June 2018.
Founded as a trading post in the late 1880s, the present-day two-story building was built in the 1920s and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 50-year-old Mareo Cawley of Chicago, Illinois, was driving the semi-truck northbound on US-441 near the intersection of State Road 60.
The driver told FHP troopers that the area was dark and he did not realize that the semi-truck had left the roadway.
The semi traveled onto the west shoulder and struck the Desert Inn and Restaurant located at 5570 South Kenansville Road (State Road 60).
After the semi-truck struck the building, it continued to travel into the building. But no one was inside the building at the time of the crash.
When tow trucks pulled the semi-truck out, part of the historical building collapsed.
FHP says that the crash remains under investigation and charges are pending.
According to Osceola County Fire Rescue, the driver sustained only minor injuries.