Florida landmark Desert Inn & Restaurant was nearly leveled by a tractor-trailer over the weekend

Photo via Osceola County Fire Rescue
On Sunday, a tractor-trailer carrying orange juice smashed into the Desert Inn & Restaurant, a historic Florida landmark in Yeehaw Junction, causing major structural damage.

The incident occurred at around 3:30 a.m. after the driver, 50-year-old Mareo Cawley, said it was too dark to see the building. “I couldn’t see nothing last night, It was dark. This whole corner right here was dark. There wasn’t any street lights. There wasn’t any lights on (at the inn), all of the lines in the street disappeared, then I end up hitting this building right here,” said Cawley in a Facebook live video.

“That was a mistake. I made a big mistake,” said Cawley. “I don’t even drive at night. I made a mistake when I got up and drove at night. I shouldn’t have done it, but I did.”

At this time, it’s unclear if the landmark can be salvaged.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the century-old building was empty at the time and the driver was uninjured in the crash. Alcohol was not a factor, but Cawley may still face charges.

The Desert Inn & Restaurant, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, officially closed last year. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the spot dates back to 1889, and “was a barroom and brothel for cowboys and lumber workers and the look of the place hasn't evolved too much since.”

The Desert Inn & Restaurant is located in Osceola County.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

About The Author

Scroll to read more Orlando Area News articles
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Orlando Weekly Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.