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The History of the Venice Jetties

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Mark Smith, former Sarasota County Archivist
Source: Sarasota County Historical Resources
Credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources

Sarasota History - The History of the Venice Jetties photo

Casey’s Pass, located in southern Sarasota County, was named for John Charles Casey. The area was surveyed in the late 1840s and early 1850s, and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey published its first survey in 1851.

The pass was named after Casey for his assistance in the three-year survey project. His name would later appear ina succeeding military map on the island to the north of the pass which was named Casey Key. Casey did not live to see the area settled, having died in 1856.

The area remained relatively inhabitable into the 1860s. At the end of the Civil War, homesteaders began to move into the area to set up homes and farms. Casey’s Pass was navigable for small shallow draft boats which carried settlers and supplies to the homesteads. The pass was known to shift and move due to the currents and storms. In 1883, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic survey showed the pass farther to the north of its present day location.

At other times the pass had to be opened to allow water to go through. In the early 1900s, heavy rains closed the pass and residents used mules, plows and shovels to open the pass up. The process was repeated on several occasions over the years.

In the 1920s, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers began developing the City of Venice during the great Florida land boom. The BLE dredged the pass and surrounding Bayfront and created filled shorelines with the spoil south of the pass. However, by the end of the 1920s the great land boom had ended and all work stopped on the City of Venice and the Pass.

During the 1930s, federal relief brought work projects to Sarasota County. With the help of U.S. Senator Robert S. Copeland of New York, who made his winter home in Venice and Venice Chamber of Commerce president Thomas M. Wrede and U.S. Senator J. Hardin Peterson of Lakeland, federal funds were made available for jetties in the pass.

The jetties project was authorized by the River and Harbor Act of 1935 with construction work to begin on the jetties in July 1936 with an estimated cost of $65,000. This would include the construction of the jetties, each approximately 660 feet long and dredge a canal eight feet deep and one hundred feet wide.

The original intent of the jetties was to prevent sand from filling Casey’s Pass. However, construction did not begin until February 1937 and the estimated cost had risen to $175,000.
Each jetty was to have nineteen steel sheet pile cylinders with creosoted wood sheet pile bulkheads connecting the jetty with the shore. The jetty construction was completed in July 1937 and the channel dredging was complete on October 18, 1937.

In 1939, it was recommended that Casey’s Pass and several other existing projects be combined into a single project to be titled Intracoastal Waterway from the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers to the Anclote River, north of Tarpon Springs. This project would be delayed due to World War II and would not officially open as part of the Intracoastal Waterway system until the 1960s. Today Casey’s Pass, called Venice Inlet, is enjoyed by fishermen and boaters year round.

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