Stuart

Stuart Florida

The founding of Martin County had much to do with its surrounding waters such as the countless creeks, the South and North Forks of the Saint Lucie River, the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. The pioneers and the inhabitants of the area largely depended on the water and the benefits it brought to the area. A gentleman named Homer Hines Stewart, Jr bought a substantial amount of property and built his bungalow North of the St. Lucie River. He gave part of his land away to put a Depot on it and so his surname was used for the railway stop when the train station came there from Palm Beach. At the time, there was no bridge that crossed the river.

The life of the Pioneers changed dramatically after the railway came to the area. The Railway meant that there was reliable transportation that helped to ship pineapples and fish to other areas. Tourists were able to travel there and for many, their social life revolved around the mail being brought by the train. At first, the tourists were mostly outdoorsmen who wanted to fish and hunt. A man named John Danforth used his houseboat as a floating Hotel. Later he built the Danforth Hotel. Later on, the Stewart house, which began as a post office and store combination, was later transformed into a hotel. Witham Field Was built in the area for the purposes of training Navy pilots during World War II. It was a full 35 square miles and after the Coast Guard added facilities it was riddled with Lookout Towers.

Some of the servicemen would meet local ladies and marry them. After they returned from the war they permanently moved to the area to be with their wives. Once the war was finished, part of that area was turned into the Dickinson State Park. The area promoted itself as being the World Capital of Sailfish. Stuart published fishing guides in The Daily News in the mid-1930s. The guides were distributed by the Chamber of Commerce and it managed to attract thousands of tourist. The editor of the Stuart news wrote most of the text and the guides were full of ads paid for by local businesses. Mr. Lyons was an environmentalist and an avid Sportsman and he instilled in the local residents the idea they should help preserve nature and to enjoy it.