The completion and operation of the Flagler railway and other railways throughout Florida spelled the death knell for the Florida East Coast Canal and other inland waterways. At first, it was thought that inland waterways would serve as ‘rate-regulators’, competitors against a monopolistic railway system. As the railway system became more reliable and economical, many inland waterways simply could not compete against faster, more competitive railways in the delivery of most goods, especially perishables. The development of the Interstate Highway system beginning in the 1950s and the use of refrigerated trucking in tandem with containerized shipping soon overtook the competitive advantage of railways in the delivery of many categories of freight. At the same time, the development of the airplane and commercial jet aircraft took away much of the passenger traffic formerly transported by the railway. Courtesy, the author.
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.