Florida and Pine Island rose from the receding seas some 24 million years ago. While it is not known when man first arrived on our island, skeletal remains have been unearthed dating back some 6,000 years.

Calusa IndiansThe Calusa Indian civilization had its cultural center in Southwest Florida, with many shell mounds discovered on Pine Island. Other mound sites were located in the Charlotte Harbor area to the North and extending down to the Ten Thousand Islands near the Everglades.  An important, periodically-worked, archeological site is located in Pineland on the northwest edge of Pine Island. The Randell Research Center (below) offers tours and information and is located next to the Pineland post office.

It is likely that the Calusas inhabited Pine Island until 1513 when it is believed Randell Research Center that Ponce de Leon landed on the west side of the island. The Spanish skirmished with the Calusas and imported serious, European diseases to which the natives had little immunity. By 1750, the Calusa culture had vanished, leaving behind only shell mounds and empty villages. Except for occasional pirates or fishermen, Pine Island was basically uninhabited until 1873 when a Russian sailor named Captain John Smith arrived after having survived a hurricane on nearby Punta Rassa. He decided that Pine Island would be a safer haven against future storms since it was protected from the Gulf of Mexico by the outer islands of Sanibel, Captiva and Cayo Costa. Other settlers followed and they, too, lived off the substantial bounty of the sea, while beginning to develop the beautiful, island paradise that we now enjoy.

When you come to Pine Island, be sure to visit our Museum of The Islands Historical Society (MOTI) where you will find a wealth of information on the Calusas and our early pioneers. You will also find other historical writings and pictures detailing the challenging way of life of the commercial fishermen who will always be proudly remembered for the significant contribution that they made as part of Pine Island's heritage. The Museum is located near Pine Island Center on Sesame Drive, next to the library building.

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