Naples Indian Canal Project History
Naples Backyard History, Inc. is working with Archaeologist Bob Carr and Ocean Engineer Todd Turrell to discover the age and additional details about the Indian Canal that crosses through Old Naples; under our streets, under our homes, and under our businesses.
Native Americans, dominated by the indigenous Calusa tribe, created this engineering marvel when they dug the Canal from the Gulf at 9th Avenue South, to a point on the Bay around 13th Ave South close to the Naples City Docks.
The Indian Canal is almost a mile long.
The Smithsonian Institute funded an expedition of the Indian Canal in 1877, with the measurements from that expedition indicating that the Canal was 40 feet wide and resting up to 25 feet below the forest floor in some places.
While archaeologists were exploring the Canal, they learned that many Indian Artifacts were being unearthed from the muck out on Marco Island, leading to the expedition that discovered the infamous Key Marco Cat, some fabulous Indian Masks, and many other treasures that are now housed at the Smithsonian Institute.
Most of the Naples Indian Canal was covered over by the 1920’s in order to make room for real estate development in Old Naples. Its existence might have been forgotten had it not been surveyed on the original plat map of Naples in 1887 by the original developers, the Naples Land Company.
With funding provided by community donors, in December 2013 ground penetrating radar was brought in to verify the Canal’s exact location.
In February 2014, archaeologists from the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy (under the direction of Bob Carr) completed extensive excavation of a segment of the Canal. Five soil and plant samples were recovered from a site on Gulfshore Blvd. These samples were taken for radiocarbon dating, and provided a range of dates from as early as A.D. 700 near the bottom of the Canal to A.D. 1400 at the top. The later date likely represents a time after the Canal had been abandoned.
Naples Backyard History, Inc. has worked with the City of Naples to erect two historical markers illustrating the original Canal Route and detailing some of the Canal’s historical information. As additional donations are obtained, the organization plans to do 1 more excavation at a minimum to fully reveal a cross section of the Indian Canal in another area where valuable historical artifacts are believed to be recoverable.
There are also plans to create a virtual 3D view of the Indian Canal including the Indian Settlements that likely existed along its path, particularly at the Gulf and Bay interfaces where significant-sized villages may have existed.
Naples Backyard History, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization funded in part by Mrs. Lavern Gaynor, a long-term Naples resident and community philanthropist. It is also supported by significant donations from the Ernest and Sandra Schaub Fund many other interested individuals & organizations.
Thank You for Your Interest in the Naples Indian Canal…
Please check back often for news and updates about the projects’ continuing progress.
The Valuable and Historic Naples Indian Canal project is made possible by Ongoing Community Support, so please
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For questions, comments, or information on getting involved… please contact us via email using the form on the Contact Us page. We appreciate your interest.