In 1886, after Isaac Trabue convinced the Florida Southern Railroad directors to locate its railroad down the east side of the Peace River, track was extended along what is now the linear park in Punta Gorda to beyond the original town of Trabue. There a forty-two hundred-foot dock was constructed and for the next eleven years, it became the heart of Punta Gorda’s commerce.
The Long Dock, located near where the Isles Yacht Club is today, extended to twelve feet of water which enabled steamships to arrive there. The pier had a telegraph office, a post office, several fish companies, stores, and facilities. Among the seafood dealers located on the dock were A.K. Demiere, Carnes and Monk, Bill Lewis, M.M. Sullivan and Sons, and Bloxham and Lewis. In October of 1887, the steamer Hutchinson of the Morgan Line arrived at the Long Dock, and for the next nine years, every Friday Morgan Line Steamers left the dock for New Orleans, and every Saturday for Havana and Key West.
The Charlotte Harbor Beacon described a steamer at the end of the Long Dock in December of 1887 with passengers in their "quaint traveling suits promenading up and down the great dock" as they waited eagerly to board the boat for New Orleans.
The Long Dock made Punta Gorda a seaport. Then in 1897, Henry Plant, who had purchased the railroad, wanting to eliminate any competition for Tampa, removed the rails from the long dock and terminated his railroad near the Hotel Punta Gorda where there was only five feet of water. The era of Punta Gorda as a seaport ended.
Sources: Vernon Peeples, Punta Gorda and the Charlotte Harbor Area.
Lindsey Williams, Out Fascinating Past.
Broadside of the Florida Southern Railroad