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ESTERO, FLORIDA

THE HISTORY OF ESTERO

The region that in recent years has evolved into the bustling, highly popular bedroom community of Estero Florida has a heritage filled with ancient Native Americans, Spanish conquistadors, citrus and cattle farmers, a unique religious sect and, now, retirees, young families and professionals.

Estero lands were inhabited thousands of years ago by ancient tribes of Native American Calusas, who also occupied neighboring Bonita Springs, Florida, and Naples, Florida. The Calusas were skilled fisherman of the Gulf and established their settlements near fresh water tributaries. They traveled by canoes, hollowed out of cypress trees, to other colonies in the area for trade and commerce.

In the 1500s, Spanish explorers and plundering pirates sailed the coastal waters of Southwest Florida in search of treasure. They named this area “Estero,” the Spanish word for estuary. When word returned to the Spanish monarchy of this new land and its tall, fierce-looking inhabitants, the Calusas, Ponce de Leon was sent on a mission of conquest.

During the course of his travels he is credited with discovering the Estero River in 1513. At that time, Mound Key, a half-mile from the estuary in Estero Bay, was the main headquarters of the Calusa Indian nation which apparently numbered somewhere in the 50,000 range. (Mound Key is also noted as the site of the first Jesuit mission in North America.)

Today the Estero River features some five miles of recreational waterway winding westward between Corkscrew Road and Broadway to the estuary at Koreshan State Park on Estero Bay leading to the Gulf of Mexico.

In th end, Ponce de Leon was repelled by the Calusas and according to historical accounts fought one too many battles with them. He was hit by a poisoned arrow and eventually died from that wound. Many historians say that occurred in the vicinity now known as Pine Island, off the coast of Ft. Myers, not far from Estero.

Other Spaniards followed, and the Calusas were eventually conquered—but by disease, not warfare. Common European illnesses such as smallpox and influenza spread like wildfire among the sheltered tribes, and the last known Calusa died in the late 1700's.

Estero became known as a land of opportunity with pioneer families settling there in the mid-1800's. In 1904, the Koreshans, a celibate Utopian society settled by the Estero River and built a post office at their settlement. Estero officially became a town. The Koreshan property was deeded to the State of Florida in 1961 and became known as the Koreshan State Historic Site.

Starting in 1900, Estero was for 50 years well-known for its citrus region, but eventually that industry gave way to grazing. During that time the communities of Naples, Florida, to the south, and Ft. Myers, Florida, to the north began growing. Being equidistant between the two, Estero would turn out to be one of the last regions to experience growth, but its proximity to Southwest Regional Airport has changed all that, as well as the explosive growth seen by its Lee County neighbor to the south, Bonita Springs. Today Bonita and Estero share many of the amenities the region has to offer and sometimes it is difficult to see where one begins and the other ends.

ESTERO TODAY

Estero, located between Bonita Springs to the South, and Ft. Myers to the North, is now home to retirees, young families and professionals. It is a sanctuary of natural beauty with year-round sunshine.

Estero offers top-notch amenities with excellent schools and the newest Florida Gulf Coast University, shopping, performing arts, museums and art galleries, healthcare, and recreation around every corner.

The community is home to the Miromar Outlets and to the noted Germain Arena (formerly TECO Arena) where many celebrities and politicians have perched for various events and concerts. It is also home to the Everblades Hockey Team and the Florida Firecats Arena Football. Estero and Bonita Springs share beautiful beaches that are extension of those from neighboring Naples and Ft. Myers Beach (Estero Island).

You will also find the huge regional malls of Coconut Pointe and Gulf Coast Town Center in the vicinity. Not to mention a top-notch airport, Southwest Florida International.

For more information on our beautiful community please click the following link or copy it to put in your browser: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estero,_Florida

Don’t miss our other tourist sites: www.BonitaTouristCenter.com, www.MarcoTouristCenter.com, www.NaplesTouristCenter.com

---This article complied by Christy Sanford and Marlene Graham---


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