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Punta Gorda 1921 William Whitten and the Bridge over Charlotte Harbor

Presentation on William Whitten of Punta Gorda and the Bridge he built over Charlotte Harbor. In celebration of Charlotte County Centennial.

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Punta Gorda 1921 William Whitten and the Bridge over Charlotte Harbor

  1. 1. A VERY IMPORTANT YEAR WILLIAM M. WHITTEN & BUILDING THE CHARLOTTE HARBOR BRIDGE Punta Gorda ~ 1921
  2. 2. William M. Whitten South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana Born 1843, to St. Joseph county pioneer President Whitten a prominent blacksmith & carriage builder who sold out to Studebaker Company In Civil War, served in 21st Light Artillery brigade holding the ranks of Sergeant, Master Sergeant, 1st Sergeant, 2nd Lieutenant. While not injured, his hearing was affected by the noise.
  3. 3. Post War in South Bend  24 years as South Bend city engineer  Submitted plan to council assigning numbers to houses and store buildings to facilitate free mail delivery  State engineer for the Kankakee River improvement district  Drainage commissioner for St. Joseph County
  4. 4. William M. Whitten arrived in Punta Gorda in 1899, 57 years old and seriously ill.
  5. 5. William M. Whitten restored to health Whitten returned to South Bend, 1901
  6. 6. William Whitten returns to Punta Gorda with his Family, 1902
  7. 7. Whitten’s Cedar Oaks
  8. 8. William Whitten’s Cedar Oaks at Pineapple Center
  9. 9. Work on the bridge began in 1916 But was halted mid-span due to soaring costs and scarcity of materials brought on by World War I
  10. 10. The Charlotte Harbor Bridge  Located at the foot of Nesbitt Street in Punta Gorda  Spanning the harbor to Sand Point in Charlotte Harbor  No state or federal money. The bridge was financed with $200,000 in bonds through a DeSoto County special road and bridge taxing district comprised of Punta Gorda and the town of Charlotte Harbor.
  11. 11. Bridge Under Construction Some specifications: 1.25 miles long; two Model T’s wide 15 mph speed limit Mid-harbor hand cranked swing span
  12. 12. The June 9th Punta Gorda Herald carried a front-page account of the bridge’s impending completion and an “Invitation to South Florida” to attend a free fish fry at the dedication on July 4, 1921. In recognition of their leadership and involvement, William Whitten and John Hagan Sr were passengers in the first car to cross the bridge on July 4th. The Completion of the Charlotte Harbor Bridge in July was another big event of 1921.
  13. 13. William Whitten’s long career of public service ended October 28, 1927. The Charlotte County commission adopted a resolution extending “deepest sympathy.” Flags were flown at half- mast. After a Methodist funeral at Cedar Oaks, Whitten’s body was shipped to South Bend for internment beside his loved ones in accordance to his wishes. Whitten succumbed to several months of chronic heart trouble at the age of 84. William Whitten was inducted into the Punta Gorda History Center Hall of Honor in 2015.

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