Tag Archives: Horatio G. Wright

Unlike Florida, states like South Carolina must rely on federal funds

Sunset at Hilton Head Island Overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway

Sunset at Hilton Head Island Overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway

Taken at sunset from the Lighthouse Marina at Sea Pines Plantation, one of the largest plantations on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with several yachts docked awaiting the arrival of more marine vessels for Memorial Day festivities.

Beyond the marina, Calibogue Sound is one link in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the second largest sound on the Atlantic seaboard. Because no state on the Atlantic seaboard except the State of Florida funds a governmental entity to maintain the Waterway through its state, states like South Carolina must rely on federal funds and the Army Corps of Engineers for dredging and other operational maintenance.

For at least two decades, there has been a shortage in federal funds to maintain the Waterway. Fortunately, the State of Florida has the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) to pick up the slack.  The rest of the states experience low water and damaged boats from a lack of  dredging, particularly in stretches in and around Hilton Head.

Lt. Horatio G. Wright, Florida’s first chief of engineers

Lt. Horatio G. Wright

Lt. Horatio G. Wright

Horatio G. Wright was the first Florida chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1852-1854). Wright superintended the first cut in what would become the Florida section of the Intracoastal Waterway, joining the Matanzas and Halifax rivers at Titusville, Fla. After years of wrangling over Congress’s constitutional powers, Congress authorized a mere pittance of $1,200 to dredge a short cut two feet deep and ten feet wide to join the waterways for military defensive purposes.

At the country’s founding, Thomas Jefferson had fought for a military with limited powers to survey the internal improvements of the Nation but not to spend a dime’s worth of taxpayer dollars for construction of roads, waterways, and bridges.  Alexander Hamilton and other Federalists pursued an expansive view of the military to fund inland waterways at taxpayer expense.  The small waterway at Titusville represented a grudging nod to a burgeoning nation with the need to transport commerce and defend the Nation. Courtesy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.