The Port Elliot Maritime Heritage Trail highlights the area's role as the first seaport for River Murray trade.
Development of the River as a significant inland transport route involved by-passing the hazardous Murray Mouth and constructing a rail link (the first public railway in Australia) between Port Elliot on the coast and the Port of Goolwa on the Murray.
From 1851 to 1866 more than 500 vessels used the facilities of the seaport. Unfortunately the wrecking of seven vessels between 1853 and 1864 confirmed Horseshoe Bay's growing reputation as a 'ship-trap', resulting in Victor Harbor replacing Port Elliot as the coastal outlet for the Murray trade.
Four of the wrecked vessels (Harry, Josephine Loizeau, Lapwing and Flying Fish) are often exposed within the surf zone at Horseshoe Bay.
The Emu, Commodore and Athol sites are thought to lie outside Horseshoe Bay and are yet to be located.