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A little known treasure on the Treasure Coast’s Orchid Island, the Town of Indian River Shores, was incorporated on June 11, 1953. Its population, however, began 200 years earlier. The history of the Town of Indian River Shores in interwoven with the history of John’s Island. This exclusive residential community comprises nearly 40% of the Town’s 7 square miles.
According to the John’s Island history, the survivors of the Spanish Plate Fleet set up a salvage camp in 1715 on what is now the northern boundary of John’s Island. The first pioneer to settle there was in 1872, John LaRoche, which is how the John’s Island name came to be. He homesteaded 138.5 acres as a farmer, and sold acre lots at $25 each. Two churches and a singing school were built in the 1890’s, and the post office calls Reams was established in 1892 to serve the 200 residents who had built homes.
Across the Indian River, the Town of Vero was chartered in 1919, and the first bridge to the barrier island was built. The 1920’s brought the railroad across the river, and many left the ocean-side in favor of jobs. With the formation of Indian River County in 1925 came the first Mosquito Control District in the State. By the time the Great Depression struck in 1929, the only inhabitants left on John’s Island were those who were buried in the cemetery. Growth did not resume on the island and surrounding area until the 30’s and 40’s.
In 1950, Fred Tuerk, a former Chicago broker and president of the Chicago Stock Exchange, was assisted by Alex MacWilliam, Jr. in the 3,200-acre purchase that included the John’s Island property. Mr. Tuerk was committed to maintaining the land in its natural state, so at Mr. MacWilliam’s suggestion, he determined to create a Town so they could control the zoning and subdivision ordinances. He filed for incorporation of the Town of Indian River Shores, which was granted on June 15, 1953. Fred Tuerk was Mayor for 10 years, then served another four on the Council. He died and was buried in the John’s Island Cemetery in 1968, and Mr. MacWilliam arranged for the sale of John’s Island to Llwyd Eccelstone. The magnificent development of John’s Island was accomplished under the direction of Mr. Eccelstone, setting the standard for the many future subdivisions on the north end of the island. Mr. MacWilliam also served on the Town Council from 1959 – 1975 and handled all of the zoning matters personally. Preserving the zoning and controlling the aesthetics of the Town have been prime considerations of all of the elected officials since its beginning. Plans for a large riverfront nightclub, consideration of a site for a major grocery store, and other commercial endeavors have been quickly thwarted in favor of only allowing the existing single drug store, convenience store/gas station and the quaint Village Shops within its borders. The current 90% gated communities afford the residents their luxurious, private lifestyle in a natural river to ocean setting.
Name: Jungle Trail
Historical Significance: Stretches from Old Winter Beach Road for almost 8 miles. The "Historic Jungle Trail" is a dirt road that is on the National Register Of Historic Places. Once used to speed the movement of citrus to the mainland packing houses, it is now used by bikers, walkers and slow moving cars. Locals and tourists enjoy the meandering path along the Indian River Lagoon with a lush tropical landscape and abundant wildlife, passing some of the most prestigious gated communities and their community docks.
Name: Offshore reefs
Historical Significance: Shipwrecks have yielded treasures to scuba divers, snorklers and occastional beach walkers.