County History

Collier County was one of a dozen new counties created during the dizzying Florida land boom of the 1920s. It is the state's 62nd county and the third largest in total land area.

Vacationers and residents alike are often surprised to discover that this area's rich and colorful past actually stretches back thousands of years. Humans have lived here for centuries, beginning with the first hunters and gatherers who drifted down the Florida peninsula at the close of the last Ice Age in search of bigger game and warmer winters.

Remote and inaccessible, the first permanent settlements did not take root until the 1880s with tiny pioneer communities dotted along the coast at Everglade, Naples, Marco and Chokoloskee. Further inland at Immokalee and Corkscrew, farming and ranching became the principal means of livelihood.

Modern development began in the 1920s and by the end of the decade, railroads and the Tamiami Trail had pierced the rugged wilderness to begin unlocking the area's enormous agricultural and resort potential. Florida's first commercial oil well was drilled here in 1943, and the County's pine and cypress logging industry flourished well into the 1950s.

Collier County's economy boomed along with its population shortly after World War II. In the short span of thirty years, the number of residents swelled from 6,488 to an astonishing 85,971 by 1980.

A vigorous economy and sustained prosperity from agribusiness, tourism and real estate have made Collier County one of the fastest-growing areas in the country and a pacesetter in defining Southwest Florida's sophisticated new lifestyle.

African American Sites & Culture
African Americans have made significant contributions to Florida's growth and development and continue to play an important role in creating modern Collier County. As early as 1688, black slaves f... Read More >
Everglade: New Directions
Barron Collier chose the pioneer settlement of Everglade, with a population of less than twelve families, as the hub of his sprawling Southwest Florida development – a tropical wilderness as lar... Read More >
Immokalee: Country Comfort
Immokalee, Collier County's largest inland community, has long been associated with sprawling cattle ranches and a thriving agricultural economy. The region was originally occupied by the Calusa I... Read More >
Naples - From the Beginning
This remote area began to attract interest during the Florida land boom of the late 1880s when a group of Tallahassee businessmen founded the Naples Town Improvement Company. The future town site was ... Read More >
One Man's Vision: Barron Gift Collier
Collier County, Florida’s 62nd county, is named for Barron Gift Collier – a pioneering businessman whose vision and personal fortune were tied to much of Southwest Florida’s early gr... Read More >
Our County Seal
The first Board of County Commissioners adopted the wild turkey as Collier County's official emblem on July 9, 1923. A bird native to the area and an important food source for the area's early... Read More >
Seminole Patchwork
The introduction of hand-cranked sewing machines around 1900 revolutionized Seminole clothing design and prompted women to begin experimenting with strips of colorful cotton fabric bought at local tra... Read More >
Swamp Buggies
Naples is the birthplace of one of the most unusual sports in motor racing history – swamp buggy racing. Local historians credit a Naples resident, Ed Frank, as the “father” and inve... Read More >
Tale of the Trail
Although it’s difficult to imagine now, as recently as 1923 there was still not a single mile of paved road in Collier County. Completion of the long-awaited highway between Tampa and Miami - th... Read More >
The Tropical Range
By the early 1900s settlers such as Robert Roberts, Jehu Whidden and Robert Carson had built up herds of native Florida "scrub cows" on the high, open rangeland around Immokalee and Corkscre... Read More >
To find historical photographs, maps and documents, visit the Florida State Archives at www.floridamemory.com. To find aerial photographs of Florida, visit www.floridamemory.com, www.usgs.gov/, www.uf... Read More >
Important Dates in Collier County History 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 Go... Read More >
Many of Collier County's place names are rooted in the past or still retain their original Seminole names. Chokoloskee: A Seminole word meaning "old house." Caxambas: One of the oldest p... Read More >