Lost Towns

Lost Towns

Good Day to all!  Did you know that over 20 settlements established in the early years of today’s Charlotte County no longer exist?  A few are still around under different names, but most are now known only to history.


Beginning to the west, on Charlotte County’s portion of Gasparilla Island, Gasparilla was a fishing village with a general store, and for a while, a post office, on the island’s north end.  Moving north, Vineland was in the vicinity of today’s Tringali Center and library.  It was William Goff’s homestead and site of a school, post office, and sawmill in the late 1880’s.


McCall, near today’s intersection of State Roads (SR) 776 and 771, was a stop on the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railroad’s (CH&N) line from Liverpool to Boca Grande’s deep-water port.  Liverpool was located on the Peace River near today’s Sunny Breeze Golf Course in Desoto County.  It also boasted a post office, school, and two churches.


On the Myakka River’s north bank, Southland, platted in 1887, had a turpentine still and eventually a CH&N railroad station.  The settlement was renamed El Jobean in 1923 when unsold land was acquired by a Massachusetts realty company headed by Joel Bean.  To the east, Charlotte was also a stop on the CH&N line, known to locals as the Cold, Hungry, and Naked.  It was renamed Murdock in 1913 after developer John Murdock gave land along its right-of-way to the CH&N.


Continuing east on the CH&N line to Liverpool, Mars was the location of A. C. Frizell’s turpentine still.  Evaland, five miles east of Murdock, is believed to be Charlotte County’s last turpentine camp and was a CH&N “flag stop”.  Flag stops were those locations where the train stopped only if a signal was given to do so by the station agent.


Moving south, Hickory Bluff, on the Peace River’s north bank, was the area’s first permanent settlement, predating Trabue (Punta Gorda) by over a decade.  It was redesignated Charlotte Harbor after a post office with that name was opened, signifying the entire harbor as its service area.  Just upriver to the east was Harborview, Nathan Decoster’s 1870’s settlement, which had a sawmill.  His subdivision is still identified today by streets bearing the names of tropical trees such as Guava, Banana, and Sapodilla, just off Harborview Road.


Continuing east of the Peace River and north of Shell Creek, Lee Branch, Morgantown, Hendricks, and Glen all sprung up along Florida Southern Railway’s line.  Lee Branch was a flag stop; Glen had a turpentine still and post office.  Furthest east was Sparkman.  Established soon after the area was opened to homesteading in 1905, it had a post office, church, school, general store and even a baseball team.  Sparkman was located north of today’s SR 31 between Farabee Road and SR 74 (Bermont Road).


Moving south of the river and Shell Creek, there was Trabue, which of course became Punta Gorda.  Moving east from there was Pineapple Center, a packing house and railroad flag stop near Solana.  Continuing south along the railroad was Acline, a contraction of Atlantic Coastline Railroad (ACL), with a turpentine still and sawmill.  The ACL was successor railroad to the Florida Southern Railway.  Acline Road still crosses U. S. 41 south of Punta Gorda between Taylor and Burnt Store Roads.


Further south, Rogers, also known as Lester and Broadbent at various times, had a sawmill and was located about where Tuckers Grade intersects U. S. 41. Gilchrist consisted of homes for ACL section workers, while Gilchrist Station was the ACL junction with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL), just north of the Lee County line.  If you know where to look on aerial maps, SAL’s abandoned roadbed can still be identified, particularly where it cuts across the Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area.


Moving further east, Shell Creek, on its namesake creek’s south bank, had homes and an International Telegraph office.  Del Verde, just southwest of today’s SR 74 (Bermont Road) and 31 intersection, was platted during the 1920’s Florida land boom.  Remnants of the main street’s curbing can still be found today, but on private property.  Bermont, near the same intersection and settled about the same time as Sparkman, boasted a general store, post office, school, and its own baseball team.


Heading south along SR 31, Bairdville, named for Luther Baird’s dairy farm, had a school.  Roux, or Rouxville, was a large sawmill and crate factory on the Babcock Ranch, with its own railroad spur.  The settlement’s commissary building still serves as ranch headquarters.


Tucker’s Corners, at the now hard to notice intersection of Tucker’s Grade and SR 31, was on the stagecoach route to Fort Myers.  Before bridges, and dredging, the Caloosahatchee River ford (crossing) was at Alva.  West of Tucker’s Corner’s was Tucker’s Woods, a flag stop on the SAL. To the south was Saline, a settlement of homes for SAL workers.


Visit Charlotte County History Collections on-line to view photographs of some towns mentioned.  Select “Community Services”, then “Libraries and History”.  Click on “Physical Items”, then “Archive Search”.  Enter the subject of your search on the “Search” line.


“Did You Know” appears, typically, every other Wednesday, courtesy of this newspaper and the Charlotte County Historical Society.  The Society’s mission is to help promote and preserve Charlotte County’s rich history.  We are also always looking for volunteers and interested individuals to serve as board members.  If you believe our area’s history is as important as we do, please visit Charlotte County Historical Society on-line at https://cchistoricalsociety.com/, or call 941- 769-1270 for more information

Check out History Services’ yearlong project, “Telling Your Stories: History in the Parks”.  It began in January 2021 with placement of the first interpretive sign “Charlotte Harbor Spa” at South County Regional Park.  The last was dedicated December 15, 2021 at Centennial Park featuring Florida postcards.  All dedicated signs can be viewed at online library resources.  Select “Programs and Services”, then “History Services” and “Virtual Programs”.

Visit the same site to access recently released oral histories featuring 40 local folks.  Select “History Services” and scroll down, or phone 941-629-7278, to find out what history related programs and videos are available.