A Little Marco Island History

With a history of human settlement dating back to roughly 4,000 BC, the area of Marco Island is one of the most historic and fascinating locations in the country. Before you book your getaway to this beautiful island, we at Horizon Rentals encourage you to learn a bit about the past of this tropical paradise. Knowing a little Marco Island history makes relaxing on its gorgeous sandy beaches that much more enjoyable! Here is a quick guide to Marco Island’s storied past.

Early History

Based on archeological evidence, a native tribe of Calusa Indians made Marco Island their home around 4,000 BC. This tribe was most likely drawn to the Island due to its tropical climate and uniquely favorable weather patterns. Evidence suggests that Marco Island was considered sacred land by the natives, who were descendants of the ancient Mayan civilization. The Calusa were skilled people. They artfully crafted masks, canoes, fishing equipment, and other items which they used in everyday survival. The native tribe also constructed massive mounds made from millions of seashells. These mounds functioned as sacred burial sites as well as protection from tropical storms and hurricanes. The sandy mounds also may have aided Spanish explorers in locating Marco Island in the 1500s. European explorers led by Ponce de Leon made landfall on the tropical island, waging war upon the native population and eventually annihilating the Calusa with the spread of disease. Marco Island then sat uninhabited for hundreds of years, until a new era of Marco Island history would begin.

Modern Settlement

Marco Island’s first settler after the destruction of the Calusa was William D. Collier, known as ‘Captian Bill.’ In 1871, after discovering the island while on a family sailing expedition, the North Caroline native made his new home on Marco Island. Following Collier’s move, fishermen came to the island and began taking advantage of the abundance of rare fish. Word spread, and by 1890 there were enough inhabitants on Marco Island for Captain Bill to open a hotel (which still serves guests today). Just a few years later while digging for well-fertilized garden soil, Collier would uncover the most significant archeological site in the country. Archeologists from the Smithsonian caught wind of this discovery and quickly made their way to Florida to excavate and preserve this incredible Marco Island history. Hundreds of precious artifacts were brilliantly preserved in the coastal muck, most likely deposited there during a powerful tropical storm. While many of these remains disintegrated after being exposed to the air, some have survived and are held in various museums, testaments to the incredible native people and culture which were so senselessly destroyed.

Horizon Rentals

If you found this Marco Island history guide fascinating, visit the Marco Island Historical Museum and the Marco Island Historical Society website to learn even more about this incredible part of Florida. Book your Marco Island stay with Horizon Rentals and come witness this tropical paradise for yourself. Experience the climate which the Calusa tribe adored and view the sites which made Marco Island what it is today!


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