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/// Naples Pier


From backwater to offshore, Naples has an abundance of fishing opportunities to meet your lifestlye.


Offshore Fishing

For millions of years the waves washed upon the sun drenched white sugar sand of Southwest Florida. The Calusa Indians knew the beauty and easy living that awaited those that would make these beaches home but after the Calusa were driven from these shores by disease and the guns of early Spanish explorers, the land lay empty. A few men like Wiggins and Gordon passed by and lent their names to area landmarks. Some men would squat on the land for a while and then move on. What is now Naples remained a wilderness, a place that could be reached only by boat.

In the late 1800s U.S. survey teams were surveying the southwest coast of Florida and reporting back to the United States Senate what a beautiful place southwest Florida could be. A Senator from Louisville, General John S. Williams, was spellbound by the description and suggested to friends a plan to go to southwest Florida, buy land and develop a city. There they could sell lots, make some money and have a winter retreat for themselves and their families. One of the men that he recruited for this adventure was Walter Haldeman, the owner of the Louisville Courier Journal newspaper. Haldeman was a man with the means to fund such a venture. In 1885 the men chartered a boat and sailed down the Southwest Florida coast looking for a piece of mainland where they could establish their city. As they sailed by the location of present day Naples, they noticed the miles upon miles of beach, and when they discovered a bay just behind the beach they thought that they had found paradise.

A persistent theme throughout the boom of the 1880s, according to Ron Jamro and Gerald L. Lanterman in their book The Founding of Naples, was the romantic notion that the Florida peninsula could somehow be molded into a mirror image of the sunny Italian peninsula. This preoccupation with Italy was on the minds of the men who formed the Naples Town Improvement Company during a strategy session in Tallahassee in the autumn of 1886. They had decided to establish a town and name it for Naples, Italy, a thriving seaport on the Mediterranean. They purchased 3,712 acres between the Gulf of Mexico and what is now known as Naples Bay. The price was $11,136, or $3 an acre.*

For millions of years the waves washed upon the sun drenched white sugar sand of Southwest Florida. The Calusa Indians knew the beauty and easy living that awaited those that would make these beaches home but after the Calusa were driven from these shores by disease and the guns of early Spanish explorers, the land lay empty. A few men like Wiggins and Gordon passed by and lent their names to area landmarks. Some men would squat on the land for a while and then move on. What is now Naples remained a wilderness, a place that could be reached only by boat.

Walter Haldeman and General Williams both bought land and in a few years they were running the Naples Town Improvement Company. In the next few years both Williams and Haldeman built homes on the beach, hired a Ft. Myers firm to build a pier and had survey teams plan their city. At the center of their city was a sixteen-room hotel. They located their hotel two blocks inland from the pier at the narrowest piece of land between the beach and the bay. The hotel opened in 1889 and Rose Cleveland, the sister of President Cleveland, was the first guest.

By 1889 the Naples Town Improvement Company was running short of funds and borrowing monies from Walter Haldeman. Haldeman had so far invested $35,000 in the venture and other investors were getting tired of losing money. On January 10, 1890, the Naples Town Improvement Company was sold at public auction on the steps of the Naples Hotel. The only bidder was Walter Haldeman and for $50,000 he bought the company. Walter Haldeman now owned 8,600 acres of land, the hotel, the pier, and the steamship Fearless that transported guests to and from Naples and General Williams' house. General Williams was so upset about losing money that he threw his house into the auction. Mr. Haldeman continued to promote Naples but more and more over the years he ran the hotel and Naples as a loving hobby.

Ed Crayton came to town in 1912 or 1913 from St Petersburg where he had been successful as a land developer. He met a woman who was working for Walter Haldeman's son as a secretary. They fell in love and were soon married. At the same time Mr. Crayton bought all of Haldeman's property except for his home. Thus a new chapter in Naples history was started. Mr. Crayton worked on Naples development until his death in 1938, at which time his property passed to Mrs. Lindsey Crayton. Mrs. Crayton held most of the property until the 1950s. It was during the time the Craytons owned most of Naples that many important changes took place. In 1926 Naples got electric power. In 1927 rail service came to Naples and in 1928 the Tamiami Trail was completed. At the time Mr. Crayton was sure his town was about to really take off, but the market crashed in 1929 and then World War II came along a few years later. Naples stayed a small but lovely oasis along the Gulf until the mid 1950s.

Courtesy of the Naples Historical Society. Visit them at the Palm Cottage museum in Old Naples or at www.cchistoricalsociety.com.



Copyright 2012 Living In Naples.