First known as Newhaven, it was renamed Sebastian in 1884. Fishing was the mainstay of this small community and naturalists came to the area because of the St. Sebastian River, the Indian River Lagoon, and Pelican Island. Paul Kroegel, whose statute stands in Sebastian Riverview Park, became the first wildlife warden for the first National Wildlife Refuge Pelican Island. Today, the area still abounds in the same natural resources first recognized decades ago. Sebastian is now the largest municipality in Indian River County with a population estimated at 20,000.
Historic little Roseland established in 1892 was one of the early planned residential settlements in the St. Sebastian River Area. In 1892, it was part of a very large Brevard County. A water tower for the Florida East Railway was located in Roseland and a small depot. This small depot was later moved to sit along the dock at the Archie Smith Fish House in Sebastian. Roseland Road from US 1 to CR512 is a nice drive with several county parks located on the St. Sebastian River. Other highlights of the area include Kashi, an interfaith spiritual center located on the banks of the St. Sebastian River, and the Shilo Youth Ranch.
Vero was the name selected by Henry Gifford to establish a post office on his homestead in 1891. It served the six families that lived in the area. By 1913, the Indian River Farms Land Development Company had purchased 50,000 acres of land adjacent to the Gifford homestead and laid out a town site for Vero west of Mr. Gifford's land. The Town of Vero was incorporated in 1919, but not until 1925 did the name change to Vero Beach. By ballot, Vero Beach became the county seat of the new county of Indian River in the same year. Today's population is approximately 18,000.
This western most town in Indian River County was up and running in 1911. It was the biggest little town in the large county of St. Lucie. By 1915 Fellsmere had hotels, electric lights, a hospital, and a new yellow brick school. Noted as the first city to allow women to vote south of the Mason-Dixon line after the reconstruction and the first in offering the convenience of packaged sugar in the state. Land sales were booming when a tropical storm came, washing away many of the dreams of this little town. Fellsmere prospered with sugar cane, but never bounced back in population until the 1990s. The natural resource of the St. Johns River at Fellsmere's back door and the historic character of this small town have reawakened the economy in this community. Today it is the home of the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival, which boasts the Guiness Book of Records for the largest frog leg festival in the world. Its population varies from 4,500 to 7,000 during the winter harvest season.
In 1893, Wabasso was a water and fuel stop on the Florida East Coast Railway. Fruit and vegetables came to the railroad siding from groves in the area and from the Mitchell dock where boats from the barrier island brought beans, pineapple, and bananas. The name Wabasso is said to have come from the Indian Word for "white rabbit" and was given to this stop by the railroad officials. In 1925 the narrow wooden Wabasso Bridge was built on the site of the old dock.
In the 1990s, Captain Frank Forester settled on the barrier island east of what was to become Wabasso. Surrounded by coastal maritime hammock and the tiny wild orchids in the live oaks, Captain Forester named the barrier island and post office, established in 1887, Orchid. Decades later, in the mid-1960's, Orchid was incorporated and became the smallest town in Indian River County. Today, the citrus lands and the hammocks of the original town have become a large residential development still incorporated as the Town of Orchid.
First know as Woodley, the citizens in the early 1910s changed the name to Quay to honor Senator Matthew Quay who had Congress authorize the first dredging of a navigation channel in the Indian River Lagoon. This deep channel would become the Intracoastal Waterway. By the 1920s, the Florida land boom was on and the name Quay did not sell or entice land developers. So, this small community changed its name again; this time to Winter Beach. Unfortunately, the Florida land bust arrived and Winter Beach was destined to remain a small unincorporated community. The Quay Dock road is one of Indian River Count's scenic and historic roads. One of the county's oldest cemeteries is located in Winter Beach.
Indian River Shores
John LaRoch had purchased John's Island in the late 1800s, subdivided the land and resold to small farmers to raise beans. Before the turn of the century, the island had a church, school, and post office called Reams. By the 1930s, the farmers had abandoned John's Island and all that was left was their cemetery. In the 1950 and 1960s, the Lost Tree Development gathered barrier island (Orchid Island) land, John's Island and other smaller island in a prestigious and exclusive development and a new town, Indian River Shores. Today, the town limits stretche up and down AIA between CR510 and Wabasso Beach and the City of Vero Beach. The estimated population is 4,000 with many retired corporate executives.
Another fishing village on the mainland side of the Indian River, Grant is three miles south of Valkaria. Its post office was established in 1891 and served the mainland community and the families across the river at Mullet Creek. The Couch Company at Grant was instrumental in directing the construction work that finally opened the Sebastian Inlet and commercial fishing became an important industry in the part of the Indian River Lagoon. Grant is considered the seafood capital of the county, with the annual Grant Seafood Festival founded in 1966. This small town, with a population of 800, is the center for crab and oyster houses and a number of marinas.
Micco is located on the north side of the St. Sebastian River in South Brevard County. This was another stop on the Florida East Coast Railroad that came through the area in 1893. The post office was established in 1884. Fishing, especially, after the Sebastian Inlet was opened became an important industry. Also, tourism from the paddlewheels and schooners and later the railroad filled the several hotels and the popular Oak Lodge on the barrier island across from Micco.The area known as Micco includes Little Hollywood, and Barefoot Bay. The overall population of the Micco area is estimated at 10,000, including 6,000 retirees in the Barefoot Bay area, which is comprised of 1,100 acres. Micco boasts three marinas and a number of boat ramps for easy access to the Indian River Lagoon, Sebastian Inlet and the St. Sebastian River. Barefoot Bay is a retirement community, established in 1969 and its location provides many opportunities for retires to enjoy 18-hole par 60 golf course and excellent fishing and boating in the nearby Sebastian Inlet area.