Rockledge was officially founded on August 7, 1887, making it the oldest incorporated municipality in Brevard County. The name Rockledge, attributed to Gardner S. Hardee, an early settler, comes from the many ledges of coquina rock that line the Indian River. Other sources refer to a man named Cephas Bailey Magruder, who built his home after settling in the area in 1876 near the Indian River. Magruder called his home “the rockledge home” and the name was eventually attributed to the whole town. It was originally referred to as Rock Ledge; the two-word name persisted through the 19th century. Early industry in the area was based on the citrus trade and accommodation for tourists traveling to South Florida via the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway of the Indian River.
Towards the early part of the 20th century, Rockledge was known as a resort town. In the winter months, the population would rise from 200 to almost 2,000 people. Up until about 1911, access to Rockledge was via boat and rail. Steamboats in the Indian River connected with Henry Flagler‘s trains to bring people to the North. Small boats, sailboats, and small launches frequently stopped to unload freight and passengers. Most of the tourists in this time were wealthy and would use the boats to connect to the rail system at that time. After World War I, the automobile allowed the average person to travel to the area and their encampments dotted the area. The Dixie Highway was completed in 1915 and spanned most of Florida. In the 1920s, US1 was paved and replaced the Dixie Highway.
President Grover Cleveland and his wife visited the city in 1888.
The town had several large hotels in the late 19th century to the early 20th century that catered to Northern tourists escaping cold winters. Condominiums are located at the previous site of Hotel Indian River.