The Heritage Trail On Sanibel

This is a project that was started on Sanibel a number of years ago. The idea was to have an educational resource that was easy to access and would address the topics that were usually not part of the formal island history but were significant to the growth and character of the island.

It consists of 23 panels placed along the length of the shared use path (bicycle path) running parallel to Periwinkle Way and the SanCap Road.  Each panel has text and period photos that describe how the island functioned in the early days, who were the first families and what events took place that has been important to the island’s development.

The Map

Gopher Rentals - The Heritage Trail


There is no order or sequence. Each panel is placed near the structure or land that is covered by the panel so there’s not a need to follow it in any particular order or to cover it all at once.  Here is the subject matter of a few of the panels.

Trail Highlights

  • Agriculture — How the island was cleared for farming in the 1860’s. That established the base for the island economy. It was disrupted in the 1920’s by salt water flooding and cheaper shipping from the mainland,
  • Conservation — How the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and CROW were formed.
  • Education — How the first tax-supported school was built in 1892 and developed into today’s highly regarded Sanibel School.
  • Fishing — How the huge commercial catches off Sanibel in the 1920’s attracted sports fishermen who loved the island and helped establish the hospitality industry – a major part of the island economy today.
  • Governance — How the islanders voted for independence from the county and incorporation as a city.
  • Pioneers — How the early homesteaders, many buried in the Sanibel cemetery, persevered in the face of hurricanes, heat and humidity.
  • Recreation — How the early days saw Saturday night socials, shared meals, fishing and baseball as the principal means of recreation.
  • Worship — How the Sanibel Community Church was built by volunteers in 1917 as an independent congregation and served as a center for island get-togethers.

There are a number of other panels covering such things as commerce, community, environment, hospitality, preservation, wildlife and other matters that made the island what it is today. This is a wonderful way for you to experience how the island of today, that is so admired, was wrested from a wilderness and developed into the thoughtful, caring paradise it has become.
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