Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Raymond Arsenault, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Gary Mormino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Darryl Paulson, Ph.D.


crime, heritage, preservation, retirees, sense of place


This thesis aims to discover, understand and appreciate the history of New Port Richey. New Port Richey's growth was affected by many of the same social changes taking place all over Florida, most notably the coming of the railroad, the popularity of the automobile, and the land boom of the 1920s. Post-World War II prosperity, pest control, air conditioning, and interstate highways attracted people to this city nicknamed the "Gateway to Tropical Florida." Unique to this area was the Legend of Chasco, an invented tradition to draw tourists and new residents to the area, and the beautiful Pithlachascotee River meandering through the heart of town as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. New Port Richey hoped to become the "Hollywood of the South."

What remains distinctive about New Port Richey today? What are its special features and characteristics that separate it from hundreds of other locales in the Tampa Bay metropolis?

My methodology is simple; I will analyze and evaluate information gathered from available primary and secondary sources: Interviews, observations, newspapers, books, articles and government documents.

Chapter one analyzes the invented tradition of Chasco, which is a part of the history and heritage of this community. New Port Richey wished to cash in on the land boom of the 1920s. Having little history of its own, the invented tradition of Chasco was born, first celebrated in 1922; it is still celebrated today.

Chapters two and three chronicle the history, as well as the tales of New Port Richey, from its first inhabitants and pioneer settlers to present-day New Port Richey.

Chapter four introduces the land known as the Starkey Wilderness Park and Preserve, a supplier of West Pasco's freshwater supply, which lies just east of the city. Starkey donated several thousand acres to the Southwest Florida Water Management District for his dream of permanently protecting the land and its resources for future generations.

Uncontrolled growth and development has eliminated evidence of New Port Richey being the "Gateway to Tropical Florida." Land and water conservation needs to be a top priority. New Port Richey, no longer has that "special something."