Historic Markers Across Florida

In the Beginning…

Marker ID:  
Location: MacDill Park, 100 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL
County: Hillsborough
Coordinates: N 27° 56.714    W 082° 27.523
  27.94523333    -82.45871666
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMM3XD


Uncle Sam Chooses Tampa for base in 1939
On July 14, 1939, the Tampa Morning Tribune announced the war department's decision to build the "Southeast Air Base" in Tampa. The land selected was a 6000 acre marshy area known as Catfish Point. As part of President Roosevelt's New Deal program, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) paid local unemployed citizens for land clearing and road construction work. Runways, buildings, and airplane hangers were built by private contractors. Construction was completed less than two years later and the base officially dedicated as MacDill Field on April 16, 1941.

The Rattlesnake Cannery
As workers cleared the old Catfish Point site, they encountered thousands of rattlesnakes, and helped give birth to the world's only Rattlesnake Cannery. The attraction near Gandy and Westshore Boulevard even had its own post office. Entrepreneur George End ran the cannery and rattlesnake attraction until his untimely death in 1943. George End's Cause of Death: Rattlesnake Bite

Behind the Scenes
Many civic, community, and political leaders in Hillsbourgh County worked hard to bring the new air base to Tampa. The base promised jobs and a boost to the sagging post-depression economy. It's said that before selecting Tampa as the site for the new Florida air base, Army officials enjoyed visiting the city and particularly the history and culture of Ybor City.

City of Tampa


There are six markers in MacDill Park on the Riverwalk honoring MacDill Air Force Base and the military in Tampa.