About the Naples Indian Canal Project

Naples Backyard History, Inc. is working with Archaeologist Bob Carr and Ocean Engineer Todd Turrell to discover the age and additional details about the Indian Canal that crosses through Old Naples; under streets, homes and businesses.

Native Americans, dominated by the indigenous Calusa tribe, created an engineering marvel when they dug the canal from the Gulf at 9th Avenue South, to a point on the Bay just south of the Naples City Docks around 13th Ave South. The canal is almost a mile long.

Measurements from an expedition funded by the Smithsonian Institute in 1877, indicate the canal was 40 feet wide and up to 25 feet below the forest floor.

While archaeologists were exploring the canal, they learned that indian artifacts were being unearthed from muck on Marco Island, leading to the expedition that discovered the infamous Key Marco Cat, fabulous indian masks and other treasures now housed at the Smithsonian Institute.

Most of the Naples Indian Canal was covered over by the 1920's to make room for development in Old Naples. Its existence may have been forgotten had it not been surveyed on the original plat of Naples in 1887 by original developers, the Naples Land Company.

Recent Work

With funding provided by private donors, ground penetrating radar was brought in to verify the canal's exact location in December 2013.

In February 2014, archaeologists from the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy (under the direction of Bob Carr) completed extensive excavation of a segment of the canal. Five soil and plant samples were recovered from a site on Gulfshore Blvd. in Naples. Samples were taken for radiocarbon dating, providing a range of dates from as early as A.D. 700 near the bottom of the canal to A.D. 1400 at the top. The later date likely represents a time after the canal had been abandoned.

Naples Backyard History, Inc. has worked with the City of Naples to erect two historical markers illustrating the route and canal facts. When additional funding is obtained, we plan to do at least 1 more excavation to fully reveal a cross section of the canal in an area where artifacts may be uncovered.

There are also plans to create a virtual 3D view of the canal including the indian settlements that likely occurred along its length, particularly at the Gulf and Bay interfaces where significant villages may have existed.

Naples Backyard History, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization funded in part by Mrs. Lavern Gaynor, a long term Naples resident and philanthropist. It is also supported with significant donations by the Ernest and Sandra Schaub Fund and many other individuals and private parties.

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