The first bridge crossing the Withlacoochee River at this site was built in the 1850's by slaves belonging to James Lanier. Replaced several times during the following century, the bridge served lumber, turpentine and cattle operations along with several short-lived small towns including Ashley and Titanic. Some timbers from one of the early bridges remain in the river about 100 yards downstream. During the Second Seminole War, Old Tiger Tail, a prominent War Chief, had his camp in swamps near the east bank of the river.. About 1900 the Campbell family operated a cypress shingle factory on the west side of the river north of the bridge. During prohibition, many illicit whiskey stills operated in the area. Two revenue agents were murdered nearby after failing to heed the local sheriff's warning: "Don't go beyond the Lanier Bridge." Men suspected of murder were killed in a gunfight shortly afterward and their bodies displayed to the public in Dade City.
In the early 1920's Cummer Cypress Company acquired over 50 square miles in eastern Pasco County, including most of the river south and east of Lacoochee. A company town, Cumpressco, was located in the northeast corner of Pasco County and reached by road from the Lanier Bridge. The Cummer sawmill closed in 1959 but remains of its private rail lines and tram roads can still seen. In the 1930's a Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor placed a rock dam about 100 yards south of the bridge in an attempt to retain water in the upper reaches of the river during dry spells. A WPA crew also rebuilt the bridge. The Cummer property was acquired by Agri-Timber, Inc. in the 1970's and subsequently sold to the Southwest Florida Water Management District in 1992 for water resource protection and conservation.