Orange Beach Historical Marker at Perdido Pass
By Margaret Childress Long
Side One: Before 1906, Perdido Pass was located three miles east of today’s Pass. It was all a part of Point Ornocor with a short river at its end curving to the west. The pass was narrow and very dangerous. Alabama Point and Ono Island did not exist. It was so treacherous that early in 1906, a group of local men, the Callaway’s and Walker’s, dug a ditch through the dunes in a more convenient location. The Hurricane of September 1906 changed that ditch into today’s Perdido Pass and created Alabama Point. The old pass silted in and that short river broke through among the dunes to the new Perdido Pass creating Old River and Ono Island.
On May 29, 1953, the State of Alabama and Florida settled a border dispute that permanently established the state line at the site of the old pass. The dredging of Perdido Pass began that same year.
Side Two: The first buildings here at Alabama Point were the Seagate Motel built by Lovick Allen in 1949, and shortly after, the Paul Smith house, the Henry Sweet house in the 50’s, and the Outrigger store built in the 70’s by Sturgis Lowman and Bill Graham.
On September 24, 1956, Hurricane Flossy caused a seven acre lake that existed near the Pass to disappear. After three years of construction, the first bridge over the Pass was dedicated May 12, 1962, connecting Alabama Point to Florida Point. With support of the Orange Beach Fishing Association and many individuals, sea walls and jetties were built during the 60’s. On September 12, 1979, Hurricane Frederic damaged the bridge requiring repairs. A stronger, higher Perdido Pass bridge was dedicated August 28, 1989, that allowed heavy loads to cross over and sailboats to pass under.
For over a 100 years this entire area was referred to as Gulf Beach, now called Perdido Key, a part of Gulf State Park, Alabama Point East.