Category Archives: Steamboats

The Steamboat “Swan” on a run in the Indian River, Fla.

20130831-185908.jpg

 

The “Swan” began as a flat-bottomed stern-wheel steamer hauling cotton on the Mississippi River.  The was said to cruise so lightly upon the water, the “Swan” would float like a drop of dew in her transits up and down the River.  In her second reincarnation, the “Swan” was purchased by the Indian River Steamboat Company to transport citrus and winter vegetables up and down the Indian River in the early 1890s. Allied with a railroad company, this steamboat company went bankrupt.  

 

Several investors in the canal company  organized another company that practically exhausted the English language in naming it to buy the “Swan” and other assets in 1896 or 1897 from the bankrupt company. The Indian River and Bay Biscayne Inland Navigation Company soon operated a small fleet of steamers along what would become Florida’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.  In 1898, the company won the contract to transport munitions down the waterway to Cuba for the short-lived Spanish American War.

From Skull Creek over Calibogue Sound to a Sunset over Daufuskie Island

image

This sunset view was taken from Skull Creek at Hilton Head Island over the Calibogue Sound. The Sound is a section of the federally controlled Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Waterway extends some 1,400 miles from Miami, Florida, to Norfolk, Virginia.

Of all the barrier islands protecting the Atlantic coast, the longest is Long Island, New York. The second longest is Hilton Head Island. (Photo courtesy, the author)

From Skull Creek over Calibogue Sound to a Sunset over Daufuskie Island

image

This sunset view was taken from Skull Creek at Hilton Head Island over the Calibogue Sound. The Sound is a section of the federally controlled Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Waterway extends some 1,400 miles from Miami, Florida, to Norfolk, Virginia.

Of all the barrier islands protecting the Atlantic coast, the longest is Long Island, New York. The second longest is Hilton Head Island. (Photo courtesy, the author)

Steamer "Swan" Schedule of Tolls, 1911

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.

image

One of the older steamboats plying the waters of what was then called the Florida East Coast Canal, the “Courtney” carried mostly passengers on short trips along the Florida East Coast in the 1890’s. Henry Flagler, then president of both the Florida East Coast Railway and the Florida canal company, cruised into Miami on the “Courtney” (also called the “Sweeney”) just before he arrived in Miami in one of his FEC Railway cars on April 13, 1896. Upon completion of the railway,Flagler liquidated his holdings in the Florida canal company and resigned as president. For the next thirty years, the Florida canal company and Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway would compete for passengers and freight in providing transportation down the east coast of Florida. And both companies would compete for settlers buying the millions of acres of state land the Florida legislature promised these two companies for extending transportation into the southern tip of the Florida peninsula.

Small tourist steamer in the Jupiter Narrows

A narrow steamer carrying tourists in the Jupiter Narrows section of what was then called the Florida East Coast Canal (now, Intracoastal Waterway), as the Indian River narrowed down into Lake Worth. In some stretches of the Narrows, steamers of ordinary width stopped and started their way through a brush-lined privately owned tollway in the early 1900s. Courtesy, State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee, Fla.

20130902-152815.jpg