Author Archives: Florida's Big Dig

About Florida's Big Dig

I am Bill Crawford. I was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., bisected by the Intracoastal. I graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor's degree in commerce, with distinction, concentrating in finance. I obtained my juris doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law. I have practiced law for more than 43 years. I am a professional historian and author of the award-winning book, “Florida’s Big Dig,” (2008) the story of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. I have practiced law in Florida since 1975. Along the way, I developed a keen interest in researching and writing history, publishing numerous scholarly journal articles and one award-winning book, "Florida's Big Dig," the story of Florida's Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, using my legal pbackground to understand legal transactions, deeds, wmortgages, bonds, preferred stock, and legal descriptions of land and water. In recent years, I have maintained a limited practice consulting with other professionals on various historical land and water issues, including sovereign, riparian, and submerged land rights, focusing on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Florida inland waterways. I maintain a broad regular website here at and a website solely on how the book was researched as well as some of the major themes explored. The website on the book itself is at The website on contacts for professional services is at A fifteen-page outline of my book

House of Refuge, Hutchinson Island, Fla. (1876)

On June 20, 1874, Congress passed legislation calling for the construction of five sturdy, wood-framed Houses of Refuge to provide shelter and provisions for shipwrecked sailors along the desolate Florida east coast.  Under general superintendent Sumner Kimball, the United States Life-Saving Service embarked on plans for the construction of the houses, starting with House of Refuge No. 1 to be located thirteen miles north of the old Indian River Inlet at Bethel Creek, near present-day Vero Beach, and ending with House of Refuge No. 5, five miles north of Norris Cut on Biscayne Bay, about where present-day Lincoln Road ends at Miami Beach.