Sugarloaf School is located in a unique environment. The area
sited behind the school is a fresh water wetland located in the
center of a mangrove swamp. Plant and animal life normally associated
with tropical hard wood forests may be found here. The plants
in this location will never reach their normal size. Development
is stunted due to the lack of nutirents in the soil. Most plants
are growing on the few inches of soil on top of the local cap
rock. Typical plants are Poison Wood, Palmetto, and Torch Wood.
Tropical rains flood the area on a regular basis. These heavy
downpours occur between June and October. During this time animal
and insect life scramble to the high point of the area.
There is a drainage ditch located behind the school building.
Large drains are located in the center of the school grounds.
St. Augustine grass was laid along both sides of the drainage
ditch to stabilize the ground. A plastic barrier was placed to
stop the incursion of the grass. Time will most likely prove that
this is not an effective practice. The grass spreads by underground
Sugarloaf Key was named for the Sugar Loaf pineapple grown there
many years earlier. Development of Sugarloaf Shores was begun
in early 1951 by Raymond Crane and his three sons, from Rimersburg,
Pa., a small coal mining town. The developing company name was
Rimersburg Coal Co., and its office on Sugarloaf remained until
1973, at which time it was sold to a buyer from Philadelphia.
In the late '50s, Mr. Crane contracted for a small post office,
and a small grocery store and a Standard service station were
In the late 1800s there was a sponger settlement on the gulf
side, and in the late '20s, Richter Clyde Perky (after whom Sugarloaf
was named at that time) developed that area with a fishing and
gambling lodge which was quite popular at that time. Mr. Perky
also made an unsuccessful attempt to combat the mosquito problem
using bats. He built a tall cypress tower with a louvered walls
fashioned after similar structures in Texas. The hope was that
bats would roost in this tower and prey on the mosquito population.
Unfortunately, bats never showed up, the affair was deemed "Perky's
Folly," and shortly thereafter, his business and his health
declined, and he died. The bat tower is still standing.
In the early '60s there was much activity on the island due to
the Cold War. During the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. Army quietly
set up temporary camp in a remote section of the island near old
U.S. Highway One, defending our coastline. The camp caused quite
a stir among the residents with camouflaged trucks, equipment
and soldiers traveling back and forth on what had once been a
peaceful rural road. When the Army decamped, a Voice of America
transmitting tower was installed, sending news and information
In the early '60s Sugarloaf Key was an utopia for children with
acres and acres of park-like land in which to roam, filled with
lush sea grape, gnarled buttonwood trees, mysterious mangrove
forests, exotic hibiscus and frangipani, and dozens of clear blue
In 1961 a restaurant and the first 25 units of a luxury resort
were built on the gulf side of U.S. Highway One, and it was expanded
with additional units in 1966. In 1967 the island's very own volunteer
fire station was built.
Sugarloaf Shores is now populated with more than 300 homes. It
supports a thriving vacation resort, motel, marina, service station,
grocery store and gift shop. Sugarloaf is so busy now it even
has its own blinking caution light at the intersection of U.S.
One and Sugarloaf Boulevard. It is still a charming and relatively
uncommercialized island, and there are still some untraveled and
serene corners to be found.