“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Anna Maria in Manatee County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)

Passage Key

Gateway to Historic Tampa Bay

Passage Key Marker image. Click for full size.
By PaulwC3, March 14, 2014
1. Passage Key Marker
Marker Front:
Less than a mile to the north lies Passage Key, marking the southerly entrance into Tampa Bay. Since Ponce de Leon explored this coast in 1513, this island has served to guide ships into the great bay beyond, called by early Spanish explorers “Bahia del Espiritu Santo.” After being named “Isla de San Francisco y Leon” by the Spanish in 1757, and renamed “Burnaby Island" by the English in 1765, it was later called “Pollux Key,” corresponding with the name “Castor Key” given to nearby Egmont Key. The island finally became known as "Cayo del Paseje” in 1783, during the second Spanish occupation. This is the origin of today's name - Passage Key. Formerly much larger than it is today, the island contained a fresh water lake surrounded by large trees.

Marker Reverse:
During the early 1830's Passage Key was the site of a fishing “rancho” operated by Baltimore sea captain, William Bunce. The island was later a haven for refugees seeking safety from marauding Indian war parties. The fresh water lake, probably spring fed, was a watering station for coastal voyagers. In 1836, the U.S. Schooner Grampus and Revenue Cutters Washington and Jefferson anchored close ashore while their guns and shore parties protected settlers from
Wide view of the Passage Key Marker image. Click for full size.
By PaulwC3, March 14, 2014
2. Wide view of the Passage Key Marker
the Indians. Passage Key was designated a migratory bird refuge by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. The island thereafter served for a time as the home of Captain Asa N. Pillsbury, Jr., a National Audubon Society warden, who in 1910 reported 102 species of birds sighted on the island. Captain Pillsbury remained warden of the island until 1921 when, during the night of October 25-26, the island disappeared under a hurricane-spawned tidal wave. Since then the island has gradually re-emerged and is once again a sea bird sanctuary, having been declared a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System by the U.S. Department of Interior.
Erected 2008 by Florida Maritime Historical Society, Dewey A. Dye, Jr. in cooperation with Department of State. (Marker Number F-253.)
Location. 27° 32.101′ N, 82° 44.134′ W. Marker is in Anna Maria, Florida, in Manatee County. Marker can be reached from North Bay Boulevard 0.3 miles north of Pine Avenue. Click for map. The marker is located at Bayfront Park, between the picnic area and the beach. Marker is at or near this postal address: 316 North Bay Boulevard, Anna Maria FL 34216, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. “Bean's Point” / Early Legend (within
Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, March 19, 2014
3. Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge
This display, located just a few yards from the Passage Key historical marker, presents the facts and history of the Passage key National Wildlife Refuge in Tampa Bay.
shouting distance of this marker); The Anna Maria Pier (approx. mile away); The City of Anna Maria Historical Park (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Island Playhouse (approx. 0.6 miles away); DeSoto Trail (approx. 5.6 miles away); Snead Island / Seventh Day Adventist School (approx. 7.3 miles away); Palma Sola (approx. 7.5 miles away); Adams and Rogers Cemeteries (approx. 8.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Anna Maria.
Also see . . .
1. Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. One of the first national wildlife refuges, Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1905. This 30-acre meandering barrier island was once a mangrove island with a fresh water lake but a hurricane in 1920 had destroyed most of the island. The island hosts the largest royal tern and sandwich tern colonies in the state of Florida. (Submitted on March 20, 2014, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.) 

2. Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1905 by Teddy Roosevelt.
View of Passage Key today image. Click for full size.
By PaulwC3, March 14, 2014
4. View of Passage Key today
Looking from beach at Anna Maria's Bayfront Park across the inlet to Passage Key.
Its purpose was to preserve nesting colonies of native sea and wading birds. Originally a 60 acre mangrove island, it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1921. It is now a low lying sandbar that fluctuates in size from one to 30 acres. Most of the Key is now underwater. Due to its importance as one of the last undeveloped barrier islands in Tampa Bay, it is closed to public use.
(Submitted on March 20, 2014, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Categories. Colonial EraExplorationSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. This page has been viewed 451 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   4. submitted on , by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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