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A Brief History of Boca Grande, FL

The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse was constructed at its present location in 1890 and proved to be a valuable aid for the ships entering Charlotte Harbor.

The south end of the island provided an opportunity for phosphate to be loaded onto the ships docked on the island. Laborers would transfer the phosphate by hand from barges alongside the ships. The risk was high for the spread of contagious diseases such as Yellow Fever between crew members and laborers which led to the building of a quarantine station a short close by the Port Boca Grande lighthouse. A state appointed doctor diagnosed the presence of dangerous diseases, and quarantined anyone infected on the island. The Quarantine House is still standing in it's original location.

Between 1890 and 1895, a pilot station was built to house the harbor pilots. The pilots would travel about 5 miles into the Gulf, meet the ships, and bring them safely back to the island. With the exception of the lighthouse keeper and some commercial fishermen, there were no other people living in Boca Grande at this time. It was a hard and lonely life for these men. When they were free from work-related duties, they would sail in small vessels up through Charlotte Harbor to visit their families in the town of Punta Gorda.

South Dock in Boca Grande. (Photo courtesy of the Boca Grande Historical Society)

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