Our Highlighted City today.....Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island can be seen approximately two miles away from the north end of Estero Island, off the coast of
Ft. Myers, Florida.
In the 1700s pirates sailed in and out among the islands along the southwestern gulf shores of Florida
(including what is now know as Sanibel Island), leaving treasures under the water. There are still
many treasures in this area for all to enjoy.
In 1832 the Florida Peninsular Land Company founded a small colony on Sanibel Island. One source says
the name came from the Spanish name Ybel, while the local Chamber of Commerce says that "Sanibel" is a
shortened, mispronounced version of the name Santa Isabella to honor the Queen of Spain (this version
says the name was given the island by the pirate Jose Gaspar). But some say the pirate Gaspar is more
myth than reality.
Nevertheless, the colony survived, though not very successfully, and in 1833 thirteen residents of the
Island petitioned for a lighthouse. Nothing happened with this request until late in the1870s when the
town of Punta Rasa became a busy cattle shipping point. Congrress appropriated the funds in 1881 and
1882. Construction began in 1884 and progressed well, but the schooner carrying the disassembled iron
tower from Jersey City sank when only two miles from the lighthouse site. Divers recovered all but two pieces
of the tower and the Lighthouse was first lit on August 20, 1884. The tall, iron skelton tower stands 98 feet.
The lighthouse was automated and unmanned in 1949. The dwellings were taken over by the U.S. Department
of the Interior and used as the headquarters for J.N."Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Sanibel Island was Incorporated in 1974 and the population today is over 5,000 with approximately
500-plus residence on nearby Captiva Island. This number swells to 22,000 or more in the winter months.
Sanibel Island is made up of canals, waterfronts, golf courses and residences, both condominium and
communities, close knit neighborhoods and exclusive developments. Captiva Island has tucked-away
mansions and old-time cottages.
Information was gathered from two sources: