Bridging Past and Present
Over a thousand years ago Captiva and Sanibel Islands, once joined, became separated when a powerful storm swept the peninsula and opened Blind Pass between the two barrier islands.
The Calusa Indians were the first known residents of Captiva. In the 1500s the fierce Calusa collided with the Spanish. By the 1800s Cubans aggressively fished the surrounding waters. In the early 1900s the island supported flourishing farms and citrus groves.
A series of severe storms during the 1920s flooded over the island, devastating the soil for farming. These same storms permanently cut the island in two, creating Redfish Pass, separating Captiva from what today is known as North Captiva, or Upper Captiva.
The same moderate climate that supports such an abundance and diversity of wildlife, attracted people as well. To escape harsh winters of the north and mid-west, the more adventurous winter folk were lured to the island as the 20th century took hold. It was often sport fishing that attracted the sportsman and sportswoman, being drawn here to cast their line with the possibility to wrestle a fish that equaled them in size. There was even a floating hotel named the Captiva to accommodate anglers.
From its unique beginnings to its evolution into a tropical paradise that attracted artists and authors, fishermen and Presidents, regular folks and off-beat Island characters, successful business owners and entrepreneurs, stories of Captiva's history are colorful.
Many found the island a place of relaxation, pasttime and inspiration. Teddy Roosevelt often fished the waters of Blind Pass, Pine Island Sound and waters off Captiva. Captiva inspired Anne Morrow Lindbergh to write “Gift from the Sea.” She came here for many years, with her husband Charles Lindbergh. Internationally famous modern artist Robert Rauschenberg called Captiva his home. Artist Roy Lichtenstein also found Captiva inspiring.
Founded in 2011, the Captiva Island Historical Society strives to preserve historical collections, pursue new acquisitions, capture oral/video histories, and provide programs, exhibits, film documentaries, historical archives, with the goal of keeping Captiva history in our island’s future.