Bridging the History between the Mainland and Casey Key

In the United States, only 83 swing bridges remain in existence, 9 of which are in the state of Florida. One such bridge is the one-lane swing bridge located on Blackburn Point Road.  Not only is this bridge one of four historic bridges left in Sarasota County, it is the only swing bridge in Sarasota County that connects the mainland with a barrier island.  However, this bridge is more than just a means of transporting you from the hustle and bustle of mainland life to the serenity of island life on beautiful, 8-mile Casey Key; it is a key player in the 90+ year history of Sarasota County. 

Photo courtesy of Center for Architecture Sarasota and State of Florida Archives

The bridge’s history traces back more than 130 years, to 1881 when Iowa homesteaders, John and Belinda Blackburn, settled along the bay.  Their son, Benjamin later settled 80 acres of land, which today is known as Blackburn Point.  Early homesteaders used to take boats out to Casey Key for hunting and collecting wood.

By 1920, the Florida land boom and the popularity of the automobile were in full “swing” (forgive the pun), and better transportation infrastructure was a growing need.  During that time, the area was governed by the county seat in Bradenton — modern-day Sarasota County was once included in the southern portion of Manatee County.  Residents of Sarasota and Venice felt that their demands for better infrastructure were not being taken seriously and thus, in 1921, residents took matters into their own hands and formed Sarasota County, citing improved transportation as one of their primary reasons.  To give you an idea of how important an issue transportation was at the time, the bond for new roads and bridges passed a year before that of the construction of the new county courthouse.

The contract for building the bridge was awarded to Champion Bridge Company of Wilimington, OH (the company still operates today) and the swing bridge was built in 1925.  A little more than 9 decades later, the bridge, while having undergone many repairs, still retains its original physical integrity and character and is still operated on demand by a bridge tender 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  

In 2001, the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places

If you have been considering a move to our beautiful and historic area, contact me today!