For many in Southwest Florida, Tamiami Trail is simply a way of life. From Tampa to Miami (hence the name, a contraction of Tampa to Miami), and all Gulf Coast cities and towns in between, US 41 has developed as a bustling business and entertainment hub, the main route from point a to point b, and so much more. But prior to the completion of the highway, which officially opened on April 25, 1928, the southwest Florida region looked much different than it does today, with much of it uninhabitable wilderness. And the construction of the highway was nothing short of a modern marvel, cutting through marsh, swamp and forest, taking 13 years to build at a cost of $8 million (adjusted for inflation, a cost of nearly $190 million today), and a whopping 2.6 million sticks of dynamite. Now, stretches of the road, most notably the east-west portion and the Tamiami Canal bisecting the Everglades, has in effect stopped the natural flow of the wetlands, prompting a multi-million dollar restoration project to restore flow.
Gateway arch to Collier County traveling from Miami west along the Tamiami Trail, soon after the road was open to the public ca. 1928.
With the road’s upcoming anniversary, the Marco Island Historical Museum is looking in the rearview at the thoroughfare’s history on April 21 at 7 p.m. In conjunction with the Smithsonian’s “The Way We Worked” exhibition on display at the Marco Island Historical Museum through May 16, park ranger Bob DeGross, Chief of Interpretation at Big Cypress National Preserve, will present “A Road Runs Through It,” a discussion about the construction of the road and Monroe Station, one of six service station outposts constructed along remote stretches of the road through Collier County. With just two surviving service stations left, Monroe Station sits in the heart of Big Cypress National Preserve and is open for visitors to explore.
- Admission for this drive down memory lane is free; call 239-642-1440 to reserve a seat. For more information, visit colliermuseums.com.
Photos courtesy of Big Cypress National Preserve