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Marco Island Florida - Island Reflections by Herb Savage

The excitement of building a resort community on the last few miles of privately owned land on the southwest coast of Florida, brought Frank Mackle and his development team from the Deltona Corporation onto the beach of Marco Island. This was in the early 1960's.

James Vensel, architect and planner of all the Mackle communities, in a matter of weeks presented a master plan for construction of some 175 miles of meandering waterways and roadways. A complete self contained community with churches, schools, parks, light industrial and residential spaces for all to enjoy was to become Marco Island.

As months passed, the entire construction team started laying out the roadways and waterways, following the engineering drawings of an 8,000 acre area on Marco Island. Dredges, clam shells, bulldozers, trucks, men and women were digging waterways "in the dry". A scheme devised for economical reasons was to remove the earth to the proper depths and slopes then install precast concrete retaining walls along the edge of the waterways before we opened up the mouth at the Marco River. When all was in place, the earth would be removed at the river end and the water would begin to flow into the area, forming the hundreds of waterways on which many homes have been built and continue to be built some 31 years later.

Although the Mackle Brothers and James Vensel have died, the stories still go on about the treasure hunt of this early time. Along the beach a record and story had been told of a buried treasure. Robert Mackle brought out a team to seek this treasure. After much digging, diving into the sand water mixture with no visibility, it was decided by Mackle that although there was still evidence of treasure being down there, he could not justify the expense when the real mission was to build a resort community and not dig for treasure with no assurance of its value.

There were other stories of finding coins, "doubloons" or what have you during the excavation in these areas along Caxambas Pass, the river on the south side of the Island where Indians and others would come for fresh water in the artesian wells found in the early days. Buried treasure has never been found - but Marco Island is a treasure itself.

Herb Savage was formerly vice president of Deltona Corporation and is a member of the Vensel Savage and Associates, Architects, Engineers and Planners. He can be contacted at 941-394-1580.