Sometime in 1896 or 1897, the Steamer Saint Lucie joined the Steamers “Saint Augustine,” “Saint Sebastian,” and “The Swan” in plying the waters of the Indian River. The Indian River and Bay Biscayne Inland Navigation Company, an affiliate of the Florida canal company constructing the ICW, purchased these vessels from the bankrupt Indian River Steamboat Company. Between constant repairs and an uneven business along the unfinished waterway, it was only a matter of time before this new steamboat company would abandon the business in the early 1900’s.
The Florida canal company formed the Indian River and Bay Biscayne Inland Navigation Company to acquire and run steamers on the nearly complete Florida East Coast Canal in the late 1890s. This steamboat company bought the steamers when the prior owner, the Indian River Steamboat Company, went bankrupt. Courtesy, Florida State Archives, Tallahassee, Fla.
While the Florida canal company dredged what would become the Intracoastal Waterway, company directors in 1896 organized the Indian River and Bay Biscayne Inland Navigation Company to run steamboats on navigable portions of the waterway. One such steamboat was the “Saint Lucie” depicted here.</
In 1898, the steamboat affiliate won the contract to ship munitions and mortars down the lower east coast waterway, still in poor condition, to Havana for the Spanish-American War in Cuba.