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City historians take trolley down memory lane

By Staff | May 30, 2009

Click. A 1950s swampland, much of it under water, later to be known as Cape Coral. Click. The same land nearly 60 years later, spotted by houses that are “under water” in an entirely different sense.
The pictures were part of a slide show presented Friday to members of the Cape Coral Historical Society that covered the past six decades of the city’s history.
Cape Coral founding fathers Elmer Tabor and Paul Sanborn gave the presentation before the crowd of about 50 climbed on two trolleys provided by the Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency for a historical tour of the downtown area.
The presentation acted as a montage covering the change and growth experienced by the city.
“I drive on (Veterans Parkway) in the morning and I think, ‘There’s a freeway in Cape Coral.’ I remember when Del Prado Boulevard was a dirt road,” Tabor said.
“In 1960 you could buy a lot for $20 down and $20 a month. We’re just about back to that same price,” Tabor joked.
The event was organized by the CRA to help educate and train trolley drivers to highlight historic Cape sites as they navigate their downtown routes. There are also plans to make a historical guide book for trolley passengers.
Sanborn also solicited the aging audience to tell their stories of Cape Coral’s early days on video to preserve the city’s history.
“We’re starting with the the older people first,” Sanborn said.
CRA executive director John Jacobsen said the city’s sputtering economy provides a good time to take stock of Cape Coral’s progress.
“We’re at a crossroads, we’re at an economic stoppage where we can step back and ask, ‘What do you want in Cape Coral?'” Jacobsen said.
The golf course is one part of Cape history Jacobsen is working to restore.
“We used to have a nice golf course where we could meet. Now we don’t even have that,” Jacobsen said.
The course was shut down two years ago because of its lack of economic viability. The CRA is currently in negotiations to buy the course and restore it to its former glory.