Barron Gift Collier

Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1873, Collier's talent and keen eye for opportunity led him into a successful street lighting business and ultimately, into printing and advertising. In just ten years, by the age of 26, he had amassed his first million by selling advertising card franchises to the nation's trolley, train and subway lines. Based in New York City, Collier's Consolidated Street Railway Advertising Company led the market in mass transit advertising with affiliates in over 70 American Cities, Canada, and Cuba. By the 1920s his multiple business interests included shipping, motor freight, hotels and spas, utilities and newspapers.

 Remote Southwest Florida first drew Collier's notice in 1911 and over the next decade he gradually accumulated over a million acres of sprawling, untouched wilderness - investing millions of dollars more to transform and develop the land.

  "Frankly, I was fascinated with Florida and swept off my feet by what I saw and felt," Collier once explained. "It was a wonderland with a magic climate, set in a frame of golden sunshine." Barron Collier

Acting on Collier's personal pledge to finish the highway between Tampa and Miami, the Florida State Legislature created Collier County on May 8, 1923, with Everglades (later Everglades City) as the County seat. By 1928, the Tamiami Trail was completed, along with countless other essential services to bring new vitality and home seekers to the region.

 A man of tremendous energy, Barron Collier was also instrumental in the national Boy Scout movement. He served as Special Deputy Commissioner for Public Safety in New York, and is credited with the introduction of white and yellow traffic divider lines on highways. He was decorated by nine foreign governments and was a founding member of INTERPOL, the International World Police.

 Barron Collier died in 1939, the state's largest landowner, at the age of 66, too soon to see his unshakable dream for Collier County fulfilled.

 The tomorrow of Florida is dawning," he wrote in 1925. "In it's soft light we see the forms of men literally hurling back the wilderness, draining large tracts, building homes, planting great gardens and orchards. Soon will come the blaze of the full mid-day. Picture, if you can, the scene as it will be then!"

Celebrate Florida's colorful past the first weekend in November

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