Category Archives: Boston and Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company

Author leads tour on the Intracoastal (without leaving the hotel)

Last year, I led my first tour on the Intracoastal Waterway about this time of year while aboard the ubiquitous WaterTaxi in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The participants were Road Scholars, a program devised by the Cambridge, Mass., non-profit organization that launched ElderHostel some years ago, today a worldwide lifetime learning program.A Road Scholar trip on the Intracoastal

Participants ranged in age from 50 to 75 who want something out of travel ,than just travel, a destination, and maybe the city bus tour with some history but mostly humor and tales my grandmother would never tell me.  The groups are comprised of highly intelligent former or current teachers, engineers, doctors and other professionals. The Road Scholar people think of everything to make the trip comfortable, interesting, and educational.  On the Intracoastal Waterway boat tour last year, I had a headphone and each Scholar had his or her own set of wireless, adjustable, channelized ear buds that masked out undesirable waterway noise, so that each Scholar could hear me–or not.

This year we were without our WaterTaxi, but we decided to use the ear buds anyway for comfort.  I gave a seventy-five minute talk on the history of the Intracoastal using PowerPoint slides that tell the story of how Florida got its section of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, a privately owned tollway before the Army Corps of Engineers assumed control and removed the six toll chains in 1929.  No one went to sleep during my talk.  Not one.  The venue for my lecture, The Riverside Hotel, could not have been more accommodating.  I’ll give four more lectures there in the coming weeks to more Road Scholars spending a week here.

The rest of the lineup is spectacular.  Patsy West, a leading expert on the Seminoles, will lecture on our Native American history and provide lunch in her charming turn-of-the-last-century Dade County pine, vernacular-style home on the New River.  Elliot Kleinberg, writer for the Palm Beach Post and author of numerous books on Florida history, including his award-winning book on the 1928 hurricane that devastated Palm Beach County and the Everglades, will also lecture in his energetic, humorous style. The Road Scholar people definitely have their act together.  Their online brochure even identifies activities by physical exertion level so you know ahead of time whether a particular tour is something within your capabilities.  If you’re looking for entertaining and educational travel plans, this program is for you. Look at their website near the time you’d like to travel. They have hundreds of listings throughout the country and the world.  Listings are subject to cancellation depending upon interest.

Website: http://www.roadscholar.org. The author has no financial interest in these travel programs. The author is paid an honorarium for each lecture just as he has been paid by other organizations for lectures at other times and places.

Drawbridge in Miami (Fla.) Damages Megayacht in the Intracoastal

A double-bascule drawbridge closed down on a mega-yacht cruising down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, causing extensive damage to the flybridge.

Slated for the Miami Boat Show, the vessel sustained so much damage it is unlikely the yacht will appear for the show, which annually draws thousands to the international event.

The Atlantic Deeper Waterways Association and Congressman J. Hampton Moore

imageAt the turn of the last century (1895-1920s), something of a renaissance occurred in the political will of the Nation in the demand for inland waterway transportation.  More than thirty citizens groups coalesced from all over the country to demand waterway construction to challenge not only the confiscatory tariffs charged by the railways but also to address the shortage of railway cars available to ship freight and carry passengers across the country.  Among these citizen groups were the National Rivers and Harbors Congress (NRHC) and the Atlantic Deeper Waterways Association (the ADWA), both of which formed in the early 1900’s.

A first-term Republican congressman representing Philadelphia, Joseph Hampton Moore sought funds to deepen a portion of the Delaware River.  His colleagues voted the bill down.  So resolute was Moore in finding some way to acquire these funds that he spearheaded the organization of the ADWA in Philadelphia in 1907.  Five hundred governors, congressman, other political leaders, as well as business leaders, and chamber of commerce representatives attended.  Instead of each state along the Atlantic seaboard separately applying for scarce funds under the Rivers and Harbors Act, Moore advocated a ‘one for all, all for one’ lobbying approach. No longer would states be pitted against each other by governmental bureaucracies distributing funds for improvements.  Within weeks, Moore introduced a bill in Congress to authorize the Corps of Engineers to survey a continuous inland waterway from Maine to Beaufort, N.C.

North Carolina congressman John Humphrey Small, ardent supporter of the ADWA.

North Carolina congressman John Humphrey Small, ardent supporter of the ADWA.

A few days later, North Carolina Democratic Congressman John Humphrey Small introduced a bill to authorize the extension of the survey southward from Beaumont, N.C. to Key West, Fla.  It would take until 1935 for the federal government to acquire and enlarge the largely privately owned inland tollways into a continuous, federally controlled, toll-free Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Miami, Fla., to Trenton, N. J., with the exception of a few miles.

The New Englanders and the bank administering Bradley’s estate finally saw a way out of the Florida waterway’s never-ending maintenance problems and the slow sale of Florida land.  They could sell the Florida East Coast Canal en masse to the federal government. It was only a matter of time.

Sir Sandford Fleming, chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway

Sir Sandford Fleming, chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, designer of Canada's first adhesive postage stamp, and the inventor of the world-wide 24 railway time zones.  In 1892, Fleming began acquiring a substantial amount of Boston & Florida land stock, soon mq aking him the largest investor.

Sir Sandford Fleming, chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway,

The Canadians are coming!  The Canadians are coming! In the late 1880s, four Canadians, including Sir Sandford Fleming’s son, Sandford H. Fleming, traveled to the State of Florida to enter into a subcontract with the Florida canal company to perform a portion of the work in the Matanzas-Halifax River Cut joining St. Augustine and today’s Ormond Beach, just above Daytona Beach.

Sir Sandford Fleming had won world-wide acclaim as chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the designer of Canada’s first adhesive postage stamp, and the inventor of the 24 time zones around the world known as Universal Time, making it easier for railways to create timetables for arrivals and destinations around the world.

The particulars of the early Florida work performed by the junior Fleming are to date unknown.  We do know that after a time the Canadian group failed to complete the work, owing a substantial sum in damages to the Florida canal company. The Canadians wouldn’t be in a position to repay the debt until almost thirty years had passed.

Meanwhile, several officials of the Florida canal company and a Newburyport, Mass. banker, Albert P. Sawyer, formed the Boston and Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company to buy 100,000 acres of the Florida canal company’s state land grant at a dollar an acre for $100,000.  Sawyer also created three land trusts to buy more canal company land, restoring the canal venture’s coffers to further dredging work down the Florida peninsula into the Indian River.  Soon Sir Sandford Fleming became the largest stockholder in the Boston & Florida land company after company officials made the stock exchangeable in land owned by the company.

Sir Sandford Fleming

Chief engineer of the Canadian and Pacific Railway, Sir Sandford Fleming was also the designer of Canada’s first adhesive postage stamps. In 1892 Fleming and his son, Sandford H. Fleming, as well as several other Canadians became interested in the inland waterway being dredged along the east coast of Florida.  In a matter of time, Sir Sandford became the largest investor in the affiliated Boston & Florida land company.

But by 1912, Fleming and his Canadian colleagues had become disenchanted with the enterprise. No dividends had yet been paid on their stock. In a few short years, the Fleming group would soon reap dividends as high as 16% annually on their investment after completion of the Florida waterway and the sales of lands abutting the waterway and Flagler’s railway.

1892 color map of the lands of the Florida canal and Boston & Florida land companies

1892 color map of the lands of the Florida canal and Boston & Florida land companies

This rare map was found in the Trent University archives, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. It shows the state lands reserved for granting to the Florida canal company in yellow and the lands of its affiliated land company, the Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company, in blue.  Each square block represents a “section” or one square mile of land. The larger squares represent townships, comprised of 36 sections or 36 square miles.

Several of the investors in the canal company organized the Boston & Florida land company to buy 100,000 acres of the Florida canal company at a dollar an acre. Sir Sandford Fleming, chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway soon became the land company’s largest stockholder. The participation of Canadian investors in Florida as early as 1892 has been a little known fact in Florida history. This map was so large that Trent University could not scan it as one continuous document. Hence, it had to be broken up and scanned in three separate sections. Is there enough interest in seeing the middle and southern east coast of Florida ca. 1892? Courtesy, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company

Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company stock certificate issued in 1924

Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company stock certificate issued in 1924

In 1892, to raise additional cash to finance canal dredging, Bradley enlisted the assistance of Albert P. Sawyer, a wealthy Newburyport, Mass. investor to organize a new company to raise $100,000. Sawyer selected the State of Maine as the venue for the new enterprise because Sawyer believed that Maine assessed the least amount of incorporation taxes. The purchase of one share of preferred stock would entitle the investor to cumulative dividends with preference over common stock. In other words, the preferred shareholder would be entitled to dividends and the liquidation of stock before the payment of dividends on common stock and the liquidation of common stock. Within a few years, Sir Sandford Fleming, formerly chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, would become one of the largest investors in the new land company. Courtesy, Collection of the author.