Harbor Bridges




Keith Goodson


Laishley Park Municipal Marina Boat Ramp
120 Laishley Court


Two 4′ h x 12′ w panels

Mural Creation Sponsors

Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society

Gary Ginter and Marty Kyanka

Judi Roth

Shively Charitable Foundation
Lt. Col. Scot & Jill Shively

The Community

About the mural

When the railroad arrived in town in 1886, the area began growing in leaps and bounds. Back then, if you wanted to go directly north from Punta Gorda, you had to go by boat or take your horse and buggy northeast to Arcadia then head back west.

A bridge across Charlotte Harbor was proposed by DeSoto Cty Commissioner John Hagan Sr. (pictured in the bottom left corner of the mural). This area was part of DeSoto County at the time. The Commissioners proposed a special road and bridge district so bonds could be sold to fund the effort. In 1915, there were no hard surfaced roads in the entire county. The special district was approved by voters on March 21, 1916 and became one of the first to be formed in south Florida.

Construction of this first bridge began that year. Completion was delayed during the war effort due to labor & material shortages, and it was DeSoto Cty Commissioner William Whitten in the top right corner, who was instrumental in getting construction started again & the bridge completed (putting up some of his own money to help the cause).

The bridge was called the Charlotte Harbor Bridge and was finally completed on July 4, 1921. The bridge connected Nesbit Street with Sand Point in Charlotte Harbor. Unfortunately, by the time it was done, it was obsolete and could barely handle the new mode of transportation, cars and eventually trucks.

Courtesy of Punta Gorda History Center

In December 1929, construction began on the Barron Collier Bridge, built to replace the Charlotte Harbor bridge. It was built west of the first bridge connecting Charlotte Harbor with King Street (what is now 41 North).  The construction of the bridge necessitated the demolition of the Railroad dock at King Street, as well as the original passenger depot.  The railroad built a new passenger depot on Taylor Road. 

The new bridge opened on July 4, 1931.  It included a drawbridge span for vessel traffic on the river. The dedication on Saturday, July 4th was a huge event attended by officials, people from across the state, and even the Seminole Indians.

Courtesy of Punta Gorda History Center

This was the only bridge across the harbor for 45 years. Over the years, more people moved here or vacationed. The bridge became the bottleneck on the Tamiami Trail. Traffic backed up for miles on both sides in season. 

FDOT finally put a new bridge into their 5-plan in the early 1970s, slating it to be built in 1974. In an effort to alleviate some of the congestion until then, the Punta Gorda City Council, after working with FDOT, passed a temporary one-way street plan in June of 1971. The plan would force southbound traffic coming off the bridge to turn right after the bridge and proceed to Cross Street and head south. Traffic would rejoin the highway south of town. This would result in making sections of Cross and King streets one-way. In January 1972, the state issued its plan for the “one-way” US 41 highway system for Punta Gorda making the temporary plan, permanent.

The building of the new bridge started in 1974 and was completed in 1976. The state named it after Albert Gilchrist. It was 45 feet tall, allowing boat traffic to go under it. The 1931 Barron Collier Bridge was converted to carry northbound traffic.

What remained of the Charlotte Harbor bridge (fishing piers) was demolished in the late 1970’s.

The original Barron Collier bridge was finally replaced with the new one we have today 7 years later in 1983 and designed as a match of the Gilchrist bridge.

Courtesy of Punta Gorda History Center

The original mural was painted in 2008 by artist Liz Hutchinson and dedicated on August 21, 2008. The replacement mural was designed and painted by artist Keith Goodson and includes all 4 harbor bridges. It was dedicated on April 24, 2024.