|Published:||Jan 20, 2014 11:17 PM EST|
|Updated:||Jan 20, 2014 11:17 PM EST|
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Take a boat across Estero Bay and you'll take a journey back in time.
"What we know right now is this is the earliest place on a map where any European explorer came within the Continental United States," said archaeologist and local historian, Theresa Schober.
Hidden by dense mangrove forests, the shell ridges of Mound Key rise more than 30 feet above the water.
"Mound Key is an island capital that was produced by the Calusa Indians. Once upon a time this was not a natural island. It was maybe a relic oyster bar or two," said Schober.
Now Fort Myers Beach officials are working to make the historic site officially part of the town. Mayor Alan Mandel says it's a logical next step and a perfect tie-in to the Mound House, the oldest surviving home on Fort Myers Beach built on a Calusa mound.
"Tying in Mound Key with Mound House I think makes sense for an archaeological standpoint and tourism as well," said Mayor Mandel.
Mayor Mandel hopes grouping the sites within the town boundaries will help generate greater interest and educational vacations to the area. The ancient site may also help present day homeowners save money on their flood insurance.
"The way the FEMA flood rates are calculated, having Mound Key and some other islands as part of the town would help reduce the insurance costs," he said.
The majority of the island's 125 acres are owned by the state, but a few acres are privately owned by the McGee family. Town officials will need the family's permission to move forward with their plans.
Tour Mound Key: