Submitted by the Museum of the Islands
This year has been a quiet one with regards to hurricanes. Before you think we are out of the woods from a hurricane impacting Pine Island this year, we offer two snippets of island history.
On Oct. 6, 1873, a major hurricane pounded the coast of Southwest Florida with howling winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Sanibel received some of the worst effects of this storm when a surge of water washed completely over the island. The saltwater-contaminated soil could not be farmed for many years after that and the few farmers living there at the time moved to other areas.
Across San Carlos Bay, the small settlement of Punta Rassa was also devastated that day when a storm surge 14 feet high destroyed most of the structures there. Capt. John Smith, one of the unfortunate Punta Rassa settlers who lost their home, noted later that Pine Island was spared the storm surge due to the outer barrier islands such as Sanibel. He moved his family to St. James City later that year to become our island's first modern day resident.
On Oct. 10, 1910, another major hurricane struck St. James City and demolished Whiteside's General Store, which housed our town's Post Office. That building was located at the end of Palm Avenue overlooking the large wharf that jutted 600 feet out into San Carlos Bay, which itself sustained substantial damage.
Also destroyed in St. James City were most of the remaining structures left over from the grand old days of the San Carlos Hotel era. Early St. James City resident James Hord rebuilt a new Post Office in the same location with lumber from the original Post Office. That Post Office would serve the area's residents until 1962 when the new Post Office on Stringfellow Road opened.
That is your Museum of the Islands "This Month in History"
For more history of Pine Island, visit us Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We are conveniently located next to the library.