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Welcome to Caladesi Island State Park

History and Culture

In the 1880s homesteader Henry Scharrer and his daughter Myrtle lived on this island. Later in life, at the age of 87, Myrtle Scharrer Betz penned the book Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise, telling her story of life on a barrier island.

Myrtle Scharrer Betz poses with her father, Henry Scharrer, for a picture outside their home on Caladesi Island. The picture was taken in 1902, shortly after Myrtle's mother, Catherine, passed away. Seven-year-old Myrtle and her father were the lone homesteaders on the island.

Caladesi homesteader Henry Scharrer shown adjusting his battery-operated radio. The clock on the wall shows the time to be 4 p.m. and the calendar shows the date as September 1927.

The 60-foot lookout tower once gave visitors a panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Sound. The steel structure was donated to the park by the Florida Board of Forestry and erected by park staff in 1969. The tower gradually deteriorated in the harsh conditions of the island environment and was dismantled in the early 1980s.

The view from the top of the Ranger Station shows the old wooden boardwalks that once added character to Caladesi Island. The two pavilions are still in use today, but the wooden boardwalks were so weathered and splintered that they were eventually replaced with concrete sidewalks.

This dock was originally used for large vessels that came into the marina. When more visitors began coming to the marina, this dock was expanded to accommodate the increase in visitation.