Brief History of Collier County

Collier County is Florida's 62nd county, established on May 8, 1923, from a segment of Lee County. It gains its name from Barron G. Collier, an advertising tycoon who developed much of the land in the southern part of the state. Naples, named after a city in Italy with the same name, is the county seat.

Collier County Timeline


Collier County was created from the southern portion of Lee County by an act of the Florida Legislature on May 8, 1923. The decision was signed into law by Governor Cary A. Hardee, Florida's 28th governor. It is Florida's 62nd county and the third largest in total land area - 2,305 square miles.

February 26, 1521: Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set sail from Puerto Rico with 200 colonists to explore and settle Southwest Florida's lower Gulf coast. Calusa Indians immediately pounced on the uninvited newcomers, driving off the Spaniards and mortally wounding Ponce.
March 24, 1837: Old Fort Foster, the earliest military post in present-day Collier County, was activated by the U.S. Army during the Second Seminole War.
March 23, 1873: Barron Gift Collier, the founder of Collier County, was born in Memphis, Tennessee.
November 6, 1886: The Naples Town Improvement Company was organized in Tallahassee, Florida.
June 25, 1888: Work began on building the first Naples Pier.
May 8, 1923: Florida's State Legislature partitioned Lee County to create Collier County.
July 7, 1923: Collier County's new Board of County Commissioners held their first meeting at the Rod & Gun Club in Everglades.
July 25, 1923: The County's first newspaper, The Collier County News, began publication.
April 13, 1925: First meeting of the Naples Town Council.
January 7, 1927: The Seaboard Air Line Railway's flagship locomotive, the Orange Blossom Special, became the first passenger train to arrive in Naples.
April 26, 1928: The Tamiami Trail was officially opened to traffic in Everglades, completing the first paved highway from Tampa to Miami.
August 1, 1933: Episcopal missionary Deaconess Harriet Bedell opened the Glade CrossMission in Everglades to begin her work with the Seminole Indians of Collier County.
April 24, 1938: The ferry boat to Marco Island was replaced by a new bridge and highway across Marco Pass.
March 13, 1939: Collier County's founder, Barron Gift Collier, died in New York City, ten days before his 66th birthday.
September 26, 1943: Florida's first commercial oil well was drilled near Sunniland, in eastern Collier County.
December 23, 1943: The U.S. Army activated a military base at Naples Army Air Field to train combat pilots during World War II.
December 6, 1947: President Harry S. Truman dedicated Everglades National Park in Everglades City.
May 25, 1949: The Florida State Legislature approved a new charter for Naples, changing it from a town to a city.
November 28, 1951: The State Farmer's Market was opened in Immokalee.
July 4, 1953: Naples Airport was dedicated as the Naples America Airport.
October 14, 1954: Collier County's first commercial broadcasting station, WNOG, went on the air.
September 10, 1960: Hurricane Donna scored a direct hit on Naples and Collier County.
April 7, 1962: The Naples Hotel, one of the city's oldest landmarks, was closed after 73 seasons.
September 30, 1962: Collier County's seat of government was officially moved from Everglades City to East Naples.
February 11, 1968: Alligator Alley was opened to traffic.
February 15, 1978: The Collier County Museum was opened at the County Government Center.
August 29, 1997: Marco Island incorporated to become Florida's 398th city.
Source:    Collier County Museum