Sanibel Island was opened to homesteading in 1888, four years after the Sanibel Island Light Station was completed. Boats ranging from steamers to schooners were drawn to the islands. The islands' prairie-like savannahs, where the threat of freeze was rare, were perfect for farming. Inns and hotels appeared to service newcomers who came to stake a homesteading claim, fish for silver king tarpon or explore the tropical frontier. Others came seeking seashells, as Sanibel and Captiva Islands were legendary among shell collectors everywhere.
Near the end of the 19th century the world became aware of the islands’ beautiful, white, shell-strewn beaches. In the wintertime, northern visitors converged in Punta Gorda and Fort Myers. Profitable excursion vessels transported day-trippers to the barrier islands for seashell collecting and sport fishing. Entrepreneurs saw the need for on-island accommodations and small resorts like The Sisters, The Matthews, The Sanibel House, The Palms, and Fisherman’s Lodge soon appeared on the waterfront.
Over time, other hotels and inns supported this growing tourist destination. These facilities adopted the new postcard fad, giving their own cards away free to their patrons for advertising. These postcards are important because they documented changes to the islands, conveyed their history and recorded a writer’s personal adventures.
Highlights of Sanibel and Captiva Islands include:
• The Sanibel Island Light Station
• The Famed Beaches and Landscapes
• The Island Ferry and Mail Boat
• Churches, Businesses and Early Eateries
• The Islands as a Refuge for Wildlife and People
Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.
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