The story of the Intracoastal and other thoughts on water, waterways, land, and ecology
Monthly Archives: December 2013
1959 Gold Coast Marathon on the Intracoastal Waterway
Russell Fraser, Jr., racing an outboard motorboat in the 1959 Gold Coast Marathon on the Intracoastal Waterway between Miami and West Palm Beach and the return to Miami the next day. Some hydroplanes among the scores of boats of every class reached speeds approaching a hundred miles an hour. Many fast boats completed the two-day course at an average speed of sixty miles an hour. The brainchild of powerboat enthusiast Sam Griffith, the GCM ran from the Pelican Harbor Yacht Club at the 79th Street Causeway to WPB and back (134 miles) from 1947 through the 1960s. In later years, boat mishaps and injuries forced race committeemen to abandon the ICW for the modern Miami Marine Stadium, now in the hands of preservationists who hope to restore the abandoned stadium. Courtesy, Russell Fraser, Jr.
Horatio G. Wright was the first Florida chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1852-1854). Wright superintended the first cut in what would become the Florida section of the Intracoastal Waterway, joining the Matanzas and Halifax rivers at Titusville, Fla. After years of wrangling over Congress’s constitutional powers, Congress authorized a mere pittance of $1,200 to dredge a short cut two feet deep and ten feet wide to join the waterways for military defensive purposes.
At the country’s founding, Thomas Jefferson had fought for a military with limited powers to survey the internal improvements of the Nation but not to spend a dime’s worth of taxpayer dollars for construction of roads, waterways, and bridges. Alexander Hamilton and other Federalists pursued an expansive view of the military to fund inland waterways at taxpayer expense. The small waterway at Titusville represented a grudging nod to a burgeoning nation with the need to transport commerce and defend the Nation. Courtesy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Steamer “Swan” Schedule of Tolls, 1911
The listing of tolls to travel along what would become the Intracoastal Waterway between several points along the privately owned Florida East Coast Canal in 1911. During its long history, the “Swan” would carry freight and passengers, and often, passengers and their automobiles. Freight included large cargoes of citrus fruit and pineapples in the late 1890’s. A toll charge of $1 equalled one day’s wages for the average laborer at that time. Courtesy, Rollins College, Winter Park, Fla.