In 1841, the river was named Big Snake Creek and was part of the route used by Federal troops in the Second Seminole War to travel south from Loxahatchee. In 1881, Captain William Hawkins Fulford explored the river and settled in the area known today as North Miami Beach. Once discovered, other settlers ventured north from Miami and by the 1890s, pineapple and vegetable farms had sprung up along the river in the newly formed town of Ojus. The river linked the Everglades with Biscayne Bay. An Indian trading post was established at what is now Greynolds Park. In 1922, Big Snake Creek was renamed the Oleta River. The historic Blue Marlin Fish House Restaurant was established in 1938 as a commercial fishing operation and evolved into a smokehouse until the 1980s. Reopened in 2007, the Blue Marlin offers tasty smoked fish and wraps.
The Florida Forever Bill was created to assist the state in purchasing environmentally significant conservation and recreation lands.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, champion of the Everglades, was a regular visitor of Oleta River State Park from its opening in 1986, and was also in attendance for the opening ceremony.
The State of Florida acquired Oleta River State Park for the purpose of protecting and restoring the natural and cultural values of the property to benefit Florida's citizens. The original acquisition took place in March 1980 and several individual parcels have been added since then, with a total park acreage of more than 1,000 acres. The Florida Park Service manages Oleta River State Park, which provides outdoor recreation compatible with conserving and protecting the property.
The Blue Marlin was a thriving smokehouse, fishhouse, marina and restaurant that opened in 1938. The original owner of the Blue Marlin, Daniel Diefenbach, was mayor of North Miami Beach in the 1950s. Visitors to Oleta River State Park can still get a great meal at the Blue Marlin.