When Change was on the Way

Completed in May 1963, the Sanibel Causeway took the place of a ferry that had been in operation since 1904.

While you’re on the Holiday Luminary Trail this year, stop by the Sanibel Historical Village where they will celebrate “A Sanibel ’60s Christmas, Change is on the Way” from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, December 1.

“You can’t look back on Sanibel in the ’60s without focusing on the biggest change the island has ever seen — the causeway,” said executive director Emilie Alfino. “The causeway led Sanibel to another historic change — incorporation as a city in 1974.”

The causeway opened May 26, 1963, and the people of Sanibel said goodbye to the ferries that had been crossing San Carlos Bay for nearly 60 years. The Kinzie Brothers, who had operated the ferry since 1904, conducted a farewell ferry cruise, accompanied by other vessels, even yachts. When the flag was lowered on the ferry, another flag was being raised on the bridge at the same time. The sleepy little island saw 1,200 cars cross the bridge in the first two hours.

Today, more than 3 million vehicles cross the causeway each year.

“Change really was on the way in the 1960s on Sanibel,” Ms. Alfino said. “When the decade started, the population on Sanibel was just 300 people.” In 2016, Sanibel’s population was 6,591.

The Historical Village is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and is located at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG ARTS). Admission is $10 for adults; those under 18 and members are free. There is handicap access at the village. For information, call 1-239-472-4648 during business hours or visit www.sanibelmuseum.org.