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Life on Gasparilla Island once had a very different rhythm. With a past intimately tied to Charlotte Harbor and the rich fishing grounds it provided, Gasparilla Island was, in its early history, the site of a small fishing village and a commercial fishery. The discovery of phosphate deposits in the region and the introduction of the railroad soon increased the pace of life, and a thriving port was built on the island's south end. As the twentieth century dawned and the Florida boom loomed on the horizon, the town of Boca Grande began to hum with the activity of a rapidly growing population. Though much has changed through the years--the little fishing village has vanished, the estimable Boca Grande Hotel is gone, and the once bustling port is now a state park--much of the region's unique history continues to inform the modern landscape. The venerable lighthouse, constructed in 1890, now serves as a museum of local history, and the grand Gasparilla Inn still stands firmly upon its original 1911 site. Those who now call Boca Grande home cherish it for the same island magic that fishermen and railroad officials recognized long ago: its unspoiled natural beauty, inviting climate, world-class fishing, and welcoming community.
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