Punta Gorda is Charlotte County’s only incorporated city, which is now more than 128 years old..
Its colorful history began with early Spanish attempts to colonize the area, which were foiled by the Calusa Indians who inhabited the area. The area had been named by Spanish fishermen “Fat Point” after the broad point of land that juts out into the harbor. I think you’ll all agree that the Spanish translation sounds a little more charming than the English version!
The English migrated to the area and in 1885 Dr Isaac Trabue bought the land from an English investor, and named the town Trabue. The name didn’t catch on and in 1887 it changed to “Punta Gorda”.
It is hard to believe that Punta Gorda, with the coming of the railroad ,Punta Gorda became a cattle town as well as mullet fishing center. Both fish and cattle were shipped from the “Long Dock” which is currently the sight of the present day Fishermen’s Village. With the coming of the railroad, also came an influx of visitors.
A huge hotel was built on the waterfront and called the Hotel Punta Gorda. This hotel eventually burned to the ground but in its heyday was definitely the place to stay.
Today the historic charm of Punta Gorda, is what draws visitors from all over the country. The population is over 17,000 and due to the great efforts of the Historic Preservation Society, there have been many programs to enhance the beauty of our town.
In order to really capture the essence of the area it is necessary to explore the waterways of the Charlotte Harbor area. If you follow the Peace River as it meanders inland you will get a feeling for the natural beauty of the area. Upriver there was a huge phosphate industry, which was situated in what is now the deserted town of Liverpool. Traveling upriver today, you can still see some of the ruins of the abandoned buildings.
For those seeking a bit of saltwater fun Charlotte Harbor flows into the Gulf of Mexico. You must venture out on a boat to experience the tranquility of one of the last unpolluted harbors in the world. An abundance of wildlife will capture your attention as well as the beautiful beaches on our barrier islands.