Everglades City Hotel Area Guide
At the turn of the last century, the much uncharted Everglades was, to the greatest extent, uninhabited and unreachable. Those who visited by sea had to own an ocean-going vessel for there were not charters, and those who visited by land cam across country for there were no road or railroads. The area was largely inhabited by indians and farmers. sugar and tomato were the main crops of the area. People lived on the islands now known as the 10,000 Islands; and this area was the main connection from Florida's west coast to the Florida Keys.
Barron Collier bought a hunting and fishing lodge (The Rod and Gun Club) to use as offices for his project...to build a road running east to west across the Everglades and north to Tampa.
First, the area had to be cleared of trees. Then the area had to be brought to sea level. The water inlet around Everglades City was formed as the land was reclaimed. The Barron river was widened to provide more soil for the land reclamation.
Workers accommodations were built, quartermasters stores and recreational facilities erected, and a train track going due north was established to bring in supplies.
The dirt trail (Tamiami Trail - Tampa/Miami road) was finished at the end of the 1920's with an enormous cost to life.
With the road came prosperity to the area. It became the County Seat with stately homes, a bank, a jail and of course a railroad. The area quickly grew. In 1955, a causeway was built linking Everglades City with Chokoloskee Island, an island developed, in part by the Calusa Indians from the 1600's from oyster mounds.
In the early 60's, hurricane Donna annihilated much of the area, together with a large loss of life. The townsfolk were reluctant to return, and businesses moved away. The area returned to a fishing community. Since then, the area has grown again, with a population of approximately 370 in 20 square miles, which rises to approximately 4,500 during the winter months. It remains a popular place for those visiting the Everglades National Park, and a great place for sport fishermen.