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Cape Canaveral, Florida

Cape Canaveral, or “Port Canaveral”, is a city in Brevard County, Florida. It is a prominent cape in Florida. It is located in the center of the state’s Atlantic coast. It is located east of Merritt Island. The Banana river lies between it. 

Cape Canaveral space launch pad

Cape Canaveral or also known as Port Canaveral is widely known and famous for hosting the Kennedy Space Center, America’s space launch pad.

One of the busiest cruise ports is found here. It is known as Port Canaveral. Other noteworthy places here are Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, Indian River, Mosquito Lagoon, Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The Atlantic Ocean is the major offshore body of water found here. The area of the cape is a piece of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. The area is known to have swift currents.

History of Cape Canaveral

The Ais people occupied the area around the Indian River to the south of Cape Canaveral during the Spanish Colonial period. The Surruque people lived and occupied the area north of the Cape around the Mosquito River. It was determined that the Ais and Surruque might be allied and that they spoke a familiar language related to the Ais language, the Timucua language.

As early as the 16th century, Cape Canaveral was already noted in maps and guides. Even though it was not yet named as such, it was already a noted location for the people around it. Spanish explorers named it Cap Canaveral in the first half of the 16th century. The Spanish explorer Francisco Gordillo was the first one who mentioned and applied the name between 1521- 1525 according to the Smithsonian Institution. It was also alternately called Cape of Currents. The name first appeared in maps in 1564.

The area that is now known as Cape Canaveral was an early landing spot for shipwrecked sailors. The term Canaveral, meaning “reed bed” or “sugarcane plantation” in Spanish was then eventually adopted.

Other notable information about the cape.

  • There are stories about French survivors from Jean Ribault’s colony at Fort Caroline. They built a fort using timbers from their shipwrecked ship, The Trinité. They were stranded and shipwrecked on the shores of what is known as Cape Canaveral.
  • There was an account of the landing of British privateers John Hawkins and John Sparke in the 16th century.
  • An unknown Presbyterian missionary lived among the Indians after being shipwrecked in the area.
  • Pedro Menéndez was wrecked off the coast of Cape Canaveral in December of 1571 and encountered the Ais Indians. There is no known account of the encounter. 
  • Alvaro Mexia was sent by the Spanish Governor of Florida Pedro de Ibarra in the year 1605 to 1606 to talk diplomatically to the Ais Indian nation. The mission was a success. The Ais people will receive ransoms for sailors that are shipwrecked and returned. 

Several communities sprang in the cape in the 20th century. Canaveral, Artesia, Canaveral Harbor, and De Soto Beach to name a few. A lot saw the potential of the area as a vacation spot but the area is predominantly a fishing and farming area.

The cap was used as a military base and also commercially in the 1950s and was formalized in 1953. A major deep water port can be found in Central Florida.