The city of Punta Gorda has been called such since the Native Americans christened the area centuries ago. The name means “fat point.” But for a period of time starting in the late 19th century, it was called Trabue, named after Kentucky attorney Isacc Trabue, who came to the area in 1883 and thought it should be named after him.
Trabue wanted to start his own town. And changing the name of the area that Native Americans had already claimed was his way of doing that, which was quite common back then.
A Place with Questionable Characters
But Trabue the town didn’t exactly have the best reputation. Known more for its criminals and homeless population, not many people wanted to settle there.
Not until the Florida Southern Railroad came to the Charlotte Harbor area in 1890, that is. Suddenly, Trabue became a place where people could find jobs and make a comfortable life for themselves. The tracks being built by the Florida Southern Railroad brought in more business.
Bye Bye Trabue
Despite the success of his new town, Trabue didn’t get to enjoy it. He was forced out in 1887 by a group of men who wanted to incorporate the city because they had a different vision of what they wanted to town to be. One of these men was the surveyor of the town, who has written previously that the town of Trabue was not well maintained, lacked proper streets and sidewalks, and was filled with mosquitoes. The group of men saw the potential beauty of this town. They voted to change the name from Trabue back to Punta Gorda. And that’s what they did.
Trabue moved back to Kentucky and died in 1907.
Post World War II Boom
After World War II, new subdivisions were built, platted with canals connected to Charlotte Harbor in the Punta Gorda Isles and Burnt Store Isles neighborhoods. Retirees from the north were attracted to these new subdivisions because of the warm weather and sunshine during the winter. Plus, there was a lot of fishing to be done.
By 1962, Punta Gorda was established but still a tiny town, with only 30 homes. Residents often complained of nothing to do so Peter Bontsema formed a shuffleboard league to give folks something else to do. He went on to become the first president of the Punta Gorda Civic Association. Now, the association boasts more than 20 organizations to help residents get involved. Shuffleboard, however, isn’t one of them.
Today, Punta Gorda retains that same small-town feel. But there’s a lot more to do, with waterfront parks, lots of walking and bicycle paths and a variety of shops and restaurants.
If you’re looking to visit this charming city, come stay with us! Check out this spacious Punta Gorda home that features a private boat dock or you can take a look at our many other beautiful homes around the Charlotte Harbor area!