The “Swan” plied what was then called the Florida East Coast Canal (later, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway) during the early 1910’s. On the first level, the steamer carried freight, including crates of pineapple, citrus, and fresh winter vegetables. The crew was housed in cabins on the third or upper level. At other times, the “Swan” carried passengers between Daytona Beach and Vero Beach, a trip which lasted a day and a half. Passengers slept overnight in the cabins on the third level; their automobiles parked on the first level. Courtesy, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.
In this first comprehensive study of the Florida section of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, I trace the roots of the waterway all the way back to the Founding Fathers, through the history of the Canal Era and its difficult path in Congress and in Florida’s young legislature as one of the early public-private partnerships, drawing upon early records and land deeds, and tracking the history of the men who made it a reality.