Tigertail Beach

Tigertail Beach

People wondering why Marco Island’s Tigertail Beach is located where it is and how it got its name usually reach the wrong conclusions that: 1) that the property was given to the County to be a public beach by the Deltona Corporation because of environmental issues related to the lagoon, protected wildlife, etc. and, 2) it’s given name has something to do with the shape of the existing beach.

First, its location is solely a factor of it being the least desirable beach that Deltona owned (in contrast to "Resident's Beach" which was the best area - dead center of the beach and accessible by two major roads). The reason the Tigertail beach area was the poorest beach had nothing to do with its condition or any environmental issues, nor did anyone have the vision to foresee that someday there would be a lagoon formed in front of this beach, but it was the least desirable beach because at the time it was the most inaccessible beach that Deltona owned. In 1969 this portion of beach was bounded to the south by water rushing directly through the beach into Clam Bay (the bay between N. Collier Blvd. and South Seas Condos) which Pass was the only means that Clam Bay had of flushing. In the 1960s and early 70’s, one walking along the beach could not walk north of the future South Seas Condo Tower 4 (which was not yet built) without forging thru the water in Clam Pass which, at high tide, was deep and rushing. Also, to the north of the future Tigertail Beach was the large parcel of land not controlled by Deltona – 211 acres of land owned by the Marco Island Corporation (the Ruppert family heirs) which would become part of the future Hideaway Beach. So, the future "Tigertail Beach" was not accessible for development by Deltona from either the north or the south and really only accessible from the east - over a future bridge on Hernando Drive built to cross the waterway to the west of Spinnaker Drive. In the early Deltona "Master Plan" of Marco Island, the area of Tigertail Beach, is shown on the development maps as an "island" for these reasons.

Later, Clam Pass filled with sand and closed, so today no one would know there was once a pass cutting through the beach and it is now possible to walk the full length of the beach. The closure of this Pass required Deltona to eliminate several platted home sites to construct two unplanned bridges: the flat bridge on North Collier Boulevard and one on Hernando Drive to flush Clam Bay and keep it from stagnating.

Secondly, the shape of the beach had nothing to do with the naming of it as there was no "tail shape" of a beach in those days. I camped on this part of the beach in the late 1960s (when I was in Boy Scouts) and there was an off shore sand bar that we often swam to, but was totally underwater, and was so full of sand dollars that we could pick them up with our feet. “Sand Dollar Island” later rose up and, after a few years, connected itself to the main beach, creating the lagoon and beach as it is now.

In February of 1969 the Marco Island Development Corporation (the joint venture between Deltona and the Collier Family) deeded to Collier County approximately 32 acres of beachfront property as part of the legal obligation of Deltona to provide public beach access. The property deeded was rectangular in shape and had no "tail." At the time Collier County took title to this area of beach, the adjacent Marco Beach Unit 11 had already been platted (in late 1964), with the first street coming off of Collier Blvd. heading toward this beach being Tigertail Court. The County Commission named the beach for this street avoiding other possible names of “Kendall Beach” or “Hernando Beach,” other major roads in the area when, clearly, Tigertail Beach sounded the best. Other county beaches are also named by their locations.

The street was named "Tigertail" by James Vensel, Deltona’s chief land planner who named all of the streets on the Island. As a longer street, it received a longer name (so that the names would fit on the maps), and the street fits the name "Tigertail" as it runs northwest and then loops to the right. Vensel chose Indian names for some of Marco’s streets, such as Arawak, Algonquin, Calusa, Seminole, and Osceola. Tigertail is also an Indian name, being the nickname of a famous Florida Seminole Indian leader during the Second Seminole Indian War, whose real name was Thlocklo Tustenuggee.  Tustenuggee being an honorary title as a "war leader." He was the Chief of the Tallahassee Indians who lived near Florida's present day capital. Tigertail  received his nickname from the U.S. Army soldiers because he wore a long strip of panther skin from his waist (note that while it was quite a fashion statement at the time, but it is not politically correct today!) "Tigertail," while perhaps an unusual name in other parts of the country, is a common street name along the east coast of Florida including Miami, where Vensel lived most of his life.

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