Zeke’s Marina was named in memory of Carl Taylor “Zeke” Martin, a farsighted early-20th-century pioneer of the area known as Pleasure Island. After a vicious hurricane in 1926 drove out the previous settler, Zeke envisioned greater things for the 1,000 acres of wild land he homesteaded, with its glistening white sand dunes. The area from Fort Morgan to Romar Beach was an unpopulated peninsula. Only a few families preceded Zeke to Orange Beach. His descendants live in the area today.
Zeke, a native of Mobile, Alabama, was team captain and head coach of the 1910-11 and 1911-12 Vanderbilt University basketball teams. He is still known as one of the university’s greatest. A mechanical engineer by trade, Zeke was an avid fisherman and sportsman/explorer, which led him to travels around the world.
Most folks were bewildered by his fascination with this difficult-to-reach area between Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. He found its natural beauty irresistible, with its snowy white sand dunes, clear Gulf of Mexico beating on the pristine shore, abundant harvest of the sea and teeming shellfish banks in its bay all worth the hard work.
Biting flies and ferocious alligators were the norm in these swampy parts. Miserable hours spent traversing a “three-trail road” (with ruts made by wagon wheels on each side and a mule in the middle) followed by a final hazardous skiff voyage barely dimmed Zeke’s enthusiasm for this newfound Eden. Zeke reigned as king of this remote paradise, which has since been subdivided. With the combination of Zeke Martin’s name and that of his partner, Spurgen Roach, shortened to make up the name of nearby Romar Beach, the legend stays alive.