7 Nov 2018
Brothers of a Lee County pioneer family, George F Kinzie and Andrew L. Kinzie began operating a freight and excursion steamer business in Fort Myers 1904. In 1926, they expanded to include vessels that could ferry cars to and from the Island. The Kinzie Brothers Ferry crossed from Punta Rassa to Sanibel on a daily basis. The trip typically took about 45 minutes, each way.
Captain Leon Cromper was a longtime skipper for the Kinzie Brothers Ferry, crossing San Carlos Bay for almost 40 years. Some of his regular passengers were Thomas Edison and Henry Ford who were “ferry addicts”. His favorite trip was when he took Charles Lindbergh and his bride Anne Morow Lindbergh to honeymoon on Captiva in 1929.
In 1955, the process of approving a bridge began. On May 26, 1963, the causeway was officially open. The Kinzie brothers with Captain Leon had a “farewell ferry cruise”. Following the cruise there was a ribbon cutting and a solid stream of cars crossing the 3 mile bridge. Captain Leon was honored as he was the first passenger in the first car to cross.
The toll rate (inbound only) was $3 per vehicle and 50 cents for those with a transponder. The prices changed in 2004 to $6 per vehicle and $3 for those with transponders. Residents and business owners expressed their outrage and the $3 toll was lowered to $2.
In 2003, there were severe cracks found in four of the support girders. Authorities immediately imposed a 10 MPH speed limit and vehicles were restricted to a 10 ton weight limit. This caused problems for business deliveries and school buses.
The construction of the new bridge began in 2004. The new causeway opened on September 8, 2007. In December 2007, the old bridge was sunk into the water to create a number of artificial reefs in the San Carlos Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
On either side of the causeway there are approximately 10 acres known as the “causeway Islands. They consist of two islands use to link the mainland to Sanibel. After you pass through the toll booth and over the “sky” bridge, the first island is Island A. This island only offers parking, there are no rest room facilities. If you continue on a little further you will come to the second island, Island B. This island offers restrooms, drinking fountains, picnic tables and a couple charcoal grills. Neither island has a fee to park. They can also be accessed from the water.
Both islands are very popular destinations since they were built. You can fish, wade, swim, picnic, canoe, kayak, wind surf, kite board, shell, sunbathe or just relax.
Fun fact about the toll booth:
Although the facility is small, it has 3 traffic toll lanes that process. On average over 3 million vehicles pass through annually. On a daily average there are approximately 8,100 vehicles.