Bridge to History

Ab Michael 1895
An 18-year-old A.B. Michael is pictured in 1895; his stint as a trading schooner captain began around this time.


He came to Orchid Island during the late 19th century. He was the captain of a merchant schooner on the Indian River, selling his cargoes of trade goods to fellow pioneers from Titusville to Jupiter. He was a major figure in the citrus business whose hard work, enthusiasm and talent helped make Indian River grapefruit known the world over. He was a man whose behind-the-scenes work helped establish protection for the Everglades. And, most of all, he was a family man, a caring husband, father and patriarch.

His name was A.B. Michael, and the bridge to Orchid Island — often called the “Wabasso Bridge” — now has a name that honors his legacy.

His daughter-in-law Anne Michael, now in her 94th year, explains that the naming of the bridge is actually more about setting something right than establishing something new. In 1964, it was suggested that the bridge be named for A.B. Michael. However, not only was there no sign, the name on record was wrong; it was referred to in documents as the “A.B. Mitchell Bridge.” “I don’t know how it happened, but it happened,” Anne says of the bureaucratic error that has finally been corrected, thanks to her efforts. 

Not only that, a sign is now up, and it gives the correct name: “A.B. Michael Bridge Memorial Highway.” Smaller letters below add: “Designated by 2020 Legislature of Florida.” A further recognition Anne appreciated came when the Garden Club of Indian River County chose the A.B. Michael Bridge as the local landmark featured for its 2020 Christmas ornament.

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