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Important Dates in Collier County History

February 26, 1521
Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set sail from Puerto Rico with 200 colonists to explore and settle Southwest Florida’s lower Gulf coast. Calusa Indians immediately drove off the Spaniards, mortally wounding Ponce.

March 24, 1837
Old Fort Foster, the earliest military post in the County, was activated by the U.S. Army during the Second Seminole War.

March 23, 1873
Barron Gift Collier, the founder of Collier County, was born in Memphis, Tennessee.

June 1, 1881
Wealthy Philadelphia tool-maker, Hamilton Disston, purchased 4 million acres of Florida swampland and wilderness – including all of present day Collier County – from the State of Florida for 25 cents an acre.

November 6, 1886
The Naples Town Improvement Company was organized in Tallahassee, Florida.

August 26, 1887
The first plat map of Naples was registered with the Lee County Clerk’s office in Fort Myers.

June 25, 1888
Work began on building the first Naples pier.

March 5, 1896
Anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing unearthed the famed Key Marco Cat while excavating an ancient Calusa Indian site on Marco Island. Miraculously preserved, the tiny wooden statuette was part of one of the richest archaeological discoveries in North America.

February 1, 1901
Naples and Fort Myers were connected by telephone.

October 17, 1910
A hurricane destroyed the original Naples pier.

May 8, 1923
Florida’s State Legislature partitioned Lee County to create Collier County, the state’s 62nd county.

July 7, 1923
Collier County’s Board of County Commissioners held their first meeting, at the Rod & Gun Club in Everglades City.

July 9, 1923
Collier County’s first bank - the Bank of Everglades – opened in the town of Everglades.

July 25, 1923
The County’s first newspaper, The Collier County News, began publishing.

April 13, 1925
First meeting of the Naples Town Council.

January 7, 1927
The Seaboard Air Line Railway’s Orange Blossom Special, became the first passenger train to arrive in Naples.

April 26, 1928
The Tamiami Trail was officially opened to traffic in Everglades, completing the first paved highway from Tampa to Miami.

March 13, 1939
Collier County’s founder, Barron Gift Collier, died in New York City, ten days before his 66th birthday.

September 26, 1943
Florida’s first commercial oil well is drilled near Sunniland, in eastern Collier County.

December 23, 1943
The U.S. Army activated a military base at Naples Army Air Field to train combat pilots during World War II.

December 6, 1947
President Harry S. Truman dedicated Everglades National Park in Everglades City.

May 25, 1949
The Florida State Legislature approved a new charter for Naples, changing it from a town to a city.

July 4, 1953
Naples Airport was dedicated as the Naples America Airport.

September 10, 1960
Hurricane Donna scored a direct hit on Naples and Collier County.

September 30, 1962
Collier County’s seat of government was officially moved from Everglades City to East Naples.

February 11, 1968
Alligator Alley was opened to traffic.

August 29, 1997
Marco Island incorporated to become Florida’s 398th city.

All text and most photographs courtesy Collier County Museum. Any use of this information without written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2002 - 2024
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