Cross-Florida Barge Canal

As early as 1822, before Florida had even attained statehood in 1845, the Army Corps of Engineers had reported to Washington the desirability of building a cross-Florida barge canal, cutting off as much as a thousand miles in transporting men and material at time of war.

For decades lobbyists for and against such a large canal capable of accommodating not simply sailboats and light-draft vessels but large barges and even ships had fought each other ‘tooth and nail’ in Tallahassee and in the halls of Congress, especially during the Depression.

But a group of ‘kitchen-table’ lobbyists led by a professor’s wife Marjorie Carr pointed out the devastating environmental effects caused by such a project. By the time of the Nixon administration in the early 1970s Congress and Tallahassee both killed the partially completed project. The result was a dammed river and green ways on both sides of some of the project, which by state law must be maintained as such in perpetuity.

For further reading, see Steve Noll and David Tegeder, “Ditch of Dreams” (Gainesville, Fla.:University Presses of Florida, 2013).

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