Fort Myers Tourism



Visiting Quaint

Fort Pierce

After reading about the history of Fort Pierce in Indian River County, my husband was determined to see the town of Ft Pierce. Riding south on Interstate 95, we took the clearly marked Fort Pierce exit, which is a rather busy intersection since it is also a popular Florida Turnpike ramp. For traveling from Fort Pierce straight to Orlando, this where the majority of tourists, commuters, business folks and truckers make the switch from the no-toll road of Interstate 95 to the Turnpike, aptly called “Florida's Main Street”.

We headed east and soon we were in the delightfully restored Main Street district of downtown Fort Pierce. Adorned by flower garden corners and tree lined streets, I was enjoying just driving slowly down through the avenues; it is a very scenic drive. I was enthralled looking at the variety of stores that occupy the streets, and the apartments and offices above the shops. Store windows revealed a panorama of fun items, clothes, and artwork and specialty stores with unique toys, flags and gifts of all kinds.

We found a space to park on the side of the street and made our way to the Corner Café. Sitting outside, we had a bite to eat. We decided not to walk the town to our next destination, the Beanie Backus Art Gallery. The gallery is directly on the water. Lovely cards depicting the most popular of Backus artwork are available for purchase. Backus’ work was a treat to see because it is important since it depicts the Florida that was before over-population and urbanization. I had no plans to purchase an actual painting, but I did buy a variety of cards they had for sale to send to friends to show them true paintings that are preserving the fine, subtle beauties of the Florida wildlife.

Our next stop was at the end of a wild turn my husband had to make in order to visit the PP Cobb Building, now housing a modern hardware and marine supply store. "I just have to shop in there," he said. He had read up about how the pioneers in the late 1800's came to this area, which was called Susanna back then, along the 'Cracker Trail', one of the few passable roads through the state.

Peter P. Cobb established a trading post on the very spot and that same building is here today. The dock back then, stretching out into the water, was the center of town. He said the town was renamed in 1901, when they incorporated with about 300 residents, after the Commander of the military who had come to fight the Seminole Indians during the years of 1838 to 1842. The commander was Benjamin Frederick Pierce, the brother of US President Franklin Pierce.

In 1894 the town was opened to railroad service and began to boom. My husband isn't one for memorizing facts, but he was fascinated to consider how, back in those days, they shipped 36,000 boxes of citrus, 48,000 crates of pineapples and a million and a half dollars worth of fish! He was also excited about Fort Pierce being a natural inlet, but not as thrilled as our next stop -- the visit to the Navy Seals site across the bridge.

The amphibious Base for special military training brought 140,000 men to the beaches of Fort Pierce to prepare for covert missions during World War II. It was a pleasant and informative tour that left us both starving.

The Ashley Gang was featured at the living history museum we stopped at on the north side of the bridge heading back to town. There was a very interesting gift shop and some displays revealing the lifestyle of early pioneers, the homes they lived in, the ways they washed and took care of daily life.

While we enjoyed our lunch at a waterfront restaurant, I read up on the Ashley Gang. Apparently, the Ashley Gang was a band of hoodlums who rode the region, something of legend in their own time. The area was so isolated that the people actually enjoyed the existence of this band of outlaws. They would ride into town, demand money at the banks or a store at gun point, then give candy away to all the kids that would crowd around them and follow running as they made their way back out of town. What a day and age to live in the beauty of the east coast of Florida!

Our day in Fort Pierce was a true joy and educational as well. I highly recommend a visit to this area any time you may be in the area. Fort Piece is also a shipping center for cargo ships supplying other parts of the U.S. and countries around the world.

Directory of

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