city, seat (1861) of Polk county, central Florida, U.S. It lies near the Peace River and Lake Hancock, 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Lakeland. In 1851 the Readding Blount family built a stockade community known as Fort Blount on the site of an earlier settlement (Peas Creek). It was later named for Francis S. Bartow, a Confederate general. Bartow was incorporated as a town in 1882 and became a city in 1893. Phosphate mining, citrus cultivation, and tourism are the city's economic mainstays, although the manufacture of fertilizer, chemicals, and packaging is also important. The nearby Mulberry Phosphate Museum exhibits fossil remains and traces the history of the phosphate industry. The Bloomin' Arts Festival is held in Bartow annually in April. Pop. (1990) 14,716; (2000) 15,340.
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