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Vero Beach History

Information for Florida Vacations in Vero Beach

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés In 1567, he marched south from St. Augustine to expand Spain’s influence in the region, encountering the Ais as he reached the Indian River near present day Vero Beach. These Native Americans were hunters and fishers, with agriculture limited to gathering wild plants. The Ais, like the Tequesta, became allies of the Spanish, considering other Europeans in Florida to be enemies. Desease, warfare and slave raiding eventually eliminated them during the 1700's.

About Vero Beach | Vero Beach History

Settlers began arriving in the area in the 1840's, shortly before Florida begame the 27th State in the Union. Henry T. Gifford applied to establish a Post Office in this village in 1891, giving it the name Vero. Two years later, Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad began service to south Florida, running through the town of Vero, providing easy transportion north for the area's fishing and agricultural harvests. The railroad also brought many new settlers to the region, who saw a need to expand the farm and orchard lands in the area. This need led to State sponsored Land Drainage Districts, to reclaim usable land from the nearby swamps.

The Indian River Farms Company, founded in 1912, became one of the nations leading citrus producers during this period. This citrus rapidly became the benchmark against which all other citrus products were judged. In 1916, Jacksonville banking barons Bion H. Barnett and William D. Barnett organized the Sebastian Ranch Company which would handle produce, dairy and cattle. Following World War I, the citrus industry was revolutionized by a wartime product, frozen orange juice concentrate.

During World War II, the Navy took over the local airfield and expanded it, training pilots for naval air combat. As many as 1400 men were stationed at the base at any time during the war, many returning to settle in the area once the war ended. After the war, the navy sold a portion of the airfield to Piper Aircraft, which is now the largest employer in Indian River County. The navy also sold 109 acres in 1948 to the then Brooklyn Dodges, who built Dodgertown, which remains the site of their annual spring training camp.




















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