Tag Archives: Spanish American War

A Floating Hotel and Restaurant in the Intracoastal during the 1930’s

In the 1930’s, Commodore Avylen Harcourt Brook, second chairman of the Florida Inland Navigation District, diligently worked with community leaders to bring the Amphitrite, a floating hotel and restaurant to Fort Lauderdale. Actually, the Amphitrite served as a warship in the Spanish-American War and the First World War; later, she was decommissioned and sold to investors, who converted her into a floating hotel and restaurant. In Greek mythology, Amphitrite was the wife of Poseidon.

Amphitrite

The “Amphitrite,” floating hotel

The Amphitrite seen here in the New River Sound, a large body of water of the Intracoastal Waterway, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with its bow facing north.  The floating hotel boasted a number of amenities in addition to serving as a hotel and restaurant.

Ultimately, the ship was not financially successful. The coups d’grace was delivered when a hurricane blew her from her mooring to another part of the Intracoastal. Over the years, the ship became something of an ‘eye sore’ from lack of maintenance. She was not missed by local residents when the old vessel disappeared during World War II, according to local legend.

As fantastic as a floating hotel may seem, Palm Beach County investor Harry Seymour Kelsey, developer of Kelsey City, now Lake Park, Fla., planned in the early 1920’s when he bought the Florida East Coast Canal from the estate of George Ł. Bradley to install a string of floating hotels along the Canal. His sale of the waterway to the State of Florida for later transfer to the federal government for conversion into the Intracoastal Waterway interrupted his master plan of “floating hotels” along the waterway.

William G. Crawford, Jr., Esq.
Author of “Florida’s Big Dig”

“Colored” troops disembarking from a steamer returning from the war in Cuba

Rare footage recorded on Thomas Edison Moving Picture paper film in May 1898 at Tampa, Florida.

This film records African-American troops walking down a steep plank as they disembark a troop steamer in May 1898 returning from fighting in Cuba during the short-lived Spanish American War. The plank was especially steep because the disembarkation occurred during high tide. The white men in command seem to ‘encourage’ the black troops down a very steep and dangerous plank.

Henry Plant, his railroad, and the Port of Tampa on the west coast of Florida won the battle against Henry Flagler, his railroad and the Port of Miami for the lucrative contracts associated with the Army and Navy staging the American disembarkations to Cuba.

News accounts reflect that the Army dispatched survey parties to determine which coast and railway would serve the military better. One of the east coast surveyors, Captain David Gaillard, a cousin of the Florida canal company’s Henry Gaillard, would later supervise the grueling work of cutting through a mountain in constructing the Culebra Cut in the Panama Canal.

The Florida canal company also won a lucrative contract over Henry Plante to move mortars and large guns via the unfinished Florida east coast canal, later to be known as the Florida portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.