Learn More About Florida’s Space Coast – Palm Bay, FL
The Timucuan Indians, attracted to the mouth of Turkey Creek at the Indian River by fresh water springs and plentiful fish, oysters, and wildlife, are thought to have been the first civilization in the Palm Bay area. Palm Bay’s recent history began in the 1850s when the first white settlers, also drawn by the bounty and beauty of the area, built homes along Turkey Creek. Originally referred to as Tillman, the settlement was described as a “small strip of hammock…on each side of Turkey Creek…mostly pine and palmetto, miserable sandy barren oak scrub, some ponds and interspersed with sawgrass and gallberry.”
By the mid-nineteenth century, there was a lumbering operation, packing house, and orange groves, but growth was slow until the arrival of the railroad in 1894. Now goods could be brought in and produce could be shipped to market faster, encouraging more families to immigrate to the area.
Starting in 1922, a 180 mile grid of 80 canals was dug to drain 40,000 acres (160 km²) of swampy land west of Palm Bay. The canals made it possible to control flooding and turn marsh lands to agricultural use. The land became dotted with citrus groves and truck farms shipping winter produce by the Florida East Coast Railroad to northern markets. Farmers sold timber and land to paper companies.
In 1959, General Development Corporation purchased land for a residential project now known as the Port Malabar subdivision. During the early 1990s, Palm Bay Regional Park, a large soccer and athletic complex in the Western part of the city, and numerous other parks and recreational facilities were built throughout the city. The Turkey Creek Sanctuary is a small nature reserve in the south part of the city. The city continues its record growth due to its proximity to the ocean and the ready availability of year-round sporting facilities.