The Island Inn is now displaying a model of the historic Islander ferry, which was used back in the 1950’s to transport visitors to and from the Islands before the Causeway. The newest addition to the Island Inn’s historic projects, the Islander sits above the fireplace in the lounge at Traditions On The Beach. Complete with 12 miniature classic cars, the ship is an exact replica of what long time locals and visitors remember as their only way to get to the place they love, Sanibel Island.
The ‘K’ at the top of the steam shaft stands for ‘Kinzie,’ the name of the company who contracted the ferries daily. A historic Kinzie Brothers Ferry Schedule is located just to the right of the model on the wall at Traditions.
Up until 1963, the ferries were “the only way to get to Sanibel was via a 30-minute ferry ride from the mainland. The Sanibel Island Ferry Service consisted of four ships for passengers and cars with trips departing every 15 minutes from 7:30 am to 5:30 PM, prompting the common refrain that ‘Sanibel closed at 5:30 pm.’ The iconic Kinzie brothers, Andrew and George, built the first permanent docks in Sanibel in 1928 after winning the coveted contract to carry mail to the island on their Kinzie Brothers Steamship Line. In 1926, their ships ferried mail, ice, fresh food, and ultimately passengers, twice a week to a makeshift dock behind Bailey’s General Store. When word of Sanibel’s beauty, exotic wildlife, and plentiful fishing spread, the Kinzies expanded their mail service to include the island’s visitor population. ‘Best,’ was the first ferry followed by the addition of the ‘Islander.’ The Kinzie vessels brought a number of illustrious visitors to the islands, including the Lindberghs, the Edisons, and the Ford family, among a steady stream of notables who quickly adopted Sanibel as their winter haven.”