Roads and Bridges to Fort Myers Beach

Dated: July 2 2022

Views: 281

In the 1920s, San Carlos Island was part of the mainland.  To get to the Beach from town, you had to take McGregor to John Morris Road in Iona.  When you reached Bunche Beach, you took a left and followed the shoreline to where the Coast Guard Station is now.  Before the first bridge was opened in 1921, the visitors would leave their cars on the mainland and take a barge across to the island.

When the first bridge to Estero Island from the mainland was opened in 1921, the small fishing village was now available to anyone who had an automobile.  Although there was only room for one car at a time to go over the new bridge, 97 cars crossed over the bay on opening day.  The island was now open for tourism. 

The original bridge was a lift bridge rather than a swing bridge.  A bridge tender had a house on the bridge and would open it for boats to pass through.  After suffering damage in the 1924 and 1926 hurricanes, the bridge was replaced with the “swing bridge” that served the island for the next 50 years.  This bridge was built in Germany in 1927 and was brought to the United States in 1928 originally for use in Jacksonville.

However, the bridge was somehow diverted to Fort Myers Beach sometime in 1928.  In 1929 the bridge was installed at the present site of the Sky Bridge.  The original bridge was operated by two bridge tenders who would manually pull the large key like lever to open the bridge for boats.  It would take about fifteen minutes for the bridge to open and close causing traffic to back up.

The road, however, was another story.  The first road on the island was a concrete road that ran from the bridge to what is now Times Square.  Next, a shell road was built from Times Square to the Beach Hotel which was located across the street from the present site of the Beach Library.  If you wanted to go farther south, you would need to drive on the beach.  By 1939, the shell road went as far as Connecticut Avenue, and by the early 40s, the road ended at the Catholic Church. 

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Ellie and Bob Bunting

Ellie has returned to real estate sales after spending the last 40 years teaching English at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers She has teamed up with her husband, Bob, who has been a....

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