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.
The “Steamboat “Saint Lucie” tied up at the Rock Ledge (Rockledge) Landing.
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.
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.
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.
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.