Category Archives: Civil Rights History

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.

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Original incorporator and director of the Florida canal company, James Colee (pronounced, ‘Coolee’) served as an engineer in the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway until his death in 1912. Colee also served as state representative and county commissioner for St. Johns County and was a stockholder in the First National Bank of St. Augustine. In Fort Lauderdale, a bend in the New River is known as Colee Hammock and Colee is pronounced there as ‘Ko-lee’ Hammock. Colee is a French Huguenot name and pronounced throughout St. Johns County (St. Augustine) as ‘Coolee’. There is much confusion in Fort Lauderdale between William Cooley, justice of the peace in the New River area and whose family was massacred by the Seminoles in 1836 and James Colee who camped in the hammock there during his survey work for the waterway in 1893. Perhaps the difference in pronunciation led to the confusion between the two names. Courtesy, Donn R. Colee (an eighth generation native Floridian).