Typescript of the "The Oklawaha River: Crooked River" by Theodore F. Hahn Jr. (includes photographs, maps and captions w...

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Title:
Typescript of the "The Oklawaha River: Crooked River" by Theodore F. Hahn Jr. (includes photographs, maps and captions with text)
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English
Creator:
Hahn, Theodore F., Jr.
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Box: 1
Folder: "The Oklawaha River" by: Theodore F. Hahn Jr.

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Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida

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University of Florida
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AA00007586:00001


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INTRODUCTION



The word travel is one thit has undergone many changes in meaning. For many
hundreds of years the word brought to mind adventure, exploration, new experiences,
even hardships. One travelled widely to see the world and learn of places and
peoples. The advent of modern communication by 'such mesas as radio, telephone,
the motion picture, aeroplane and television has served to destroy or dilute this
spirit of travelling for adventure, and has brought peoples more or less together
without actual physical visitation. Not so many years ago travel was an avocation.
One beard much of the "grand tour". One adventured to darkest Africa or explored
the south Pacific, and more recently we have seen the scientifically regulated ex*
ploration of the Antarctic. As a result of global war, curiosity has been dulled
or satisfied. We have seen or heard of all the byways and hidden places of the
world and those who now travel are more purposeful, less inquisitive, less adven-
turous and travel is geared to some project. Travel has become incidental, rather
than an undertaking of adventure. The charts are all plotted, the time tables all
drawn up and the risks are all known beforehand. We now travel to get someplace
or to accomplish some task. We used to travel to find something or see something
new. We are now more concerned with place than with scene; as a result perhaps
we see much less.

Travel in this highly mechanized age can mean so varied an assortment of con-
veyances and involve such radical differences in locomotion and time that one is
almost forced to define travel in terms of the conveyance used. Travel by aeroplane
can hardly be compared with that by train, or that by steamship with that by automo-
bile. Each method of locomotion involves so many differences in speed, terH*ery-
traversed and horizons seen that one can mean many varied experiences by the one
word travel.

In his essay on travel Hazlitt wrore, "It seems that we can think of but one
place at a time". When applied to travel by walking as Hazlitt did this statement
has application as it does to any travel which involves slow locomotion such as that
by horse and buggy, row boat, etc. In these forms of travel the speed of progress
is such that one has time to note and study the details of the landscape to the ex-
clusion of other scenes. But when one is roaring along ten thousand feet over the
earth at a speed of two or three hundred miles an hour, one not only can but aust
think of more than one place at a time. In fact, under such circumstances one thinks
only of places, not of details, and everything seen becomes a kaleidoscopic sequence
instead of a slowly unfolding series of scenes, each noted by its own variegated
differences. This is the danger of our modern methods of travel. We hurry on so
rapidly that we have neither the time to see detail nor do we get close enough to
appreciate the individuality of place. In the process we begin to think of men in
the same terms. We count men only in the mass and the individual is not seen or
closely studied. When man is viewed only in the mass, he loses his individuality
and thus his liberty. Travel used to be an individualistic thing, but now is in
.. danger of being a habit.


TMT OKLAWAHA RIVER





It is time that some of us become interested again in individualistic travel,
where travel is done for pleasure, where destination is incidental, and scene is
more important than speed. Travel should again become a pleasure, with progress
from place to place slow enough to encourage the appreciation of each new scene.
For such travel we have in this day various methods of locomotion* Walking, touring
by automobile, riding on horseback, or cruising by small boat all offer the traveller
a means of locomotion which will allow him choice of direction, choice of destination
and leisure to go a slow enough pace for the enjoyment of place, sight, sound and
people. When travelling by small boat we have time to note the details, lovely or
unlovely, of each place. We have time to see people and opportunity to see bird and
animal life, variations in land, changes in forest and swamp and difforeneist in the
sky. In short we can become well acquainted with a small part of the world each day
so that we can say with Richard Steele, "It is an inexpressible pleasure to know a
little of the world".

If one supposes that there are people in sufficient numbers in this world who are
interested in such pleasurable travel by small boat, the problem then confronts us as
to where one can go to find the proper waterways on which to travel. There are innu-a
erable waterways all over the world and our country has IMS many interesting channels
to offer, but so many of the rivers of the world, especially those in indutrialised
areas, have been despoiled. Cities have destroyed the beauties of many of our rivers.
Factories, railroad embankments, retaining walls, smoke stacks, power lines, bridge#
locks, dikes and all the so-called blessings of civilization are interposed to hbin-
der travel by water. If these man made changes do not hinder, they serve mainly to
become grotesque scenes of disorder and disarray, the very things which most of us a
attempt to leave behind us when we travel, regardless of how or where we travel.
Many rivers are despoiled by pollution from factories and sewers, others by periodic .
floods which destroy the life and vegetation on the banks. On many rivers levees
and dikes have been thrown up to interpose themselves between us and the world we ame
attempting to see so that we run in a trough of dirty water between man made walls.
Therefore to travel for pleasure one must seek those streams which have not been too
despoiled by man or nature.

The real reason for travel of this kind, leisurely, unplotted, untimed and unhur-
ried is not merely the desire to see nature and its beauties or places and people. In
most cases it is the one means of escape from our daily world. To very few is it given
that travel is unlimited and continuous. For most of us travels a means of escape
from the daily grind of work and the ugliness of what man is pleased to call society.
One must escape Main Street now and then to recover one's soul. Travel of this kind
is more than an opiate which makes the disease civilization bearable. Travel of this
kind has the qualities of vitamins to restore flagging interests and helps the diges-
tion of the sodden dumpling called progress. Travel on a small boat, with its leisure,
the successive changes of scene and the always present element of the unknown and un-
looked for is a sure escape. Escape is good for anyone, provided one does not merely
run away to ennui and boredom, a ceoon error made by many people who "travel". On
a small boat, however, with piloting to be done, meals to be cooked, aanengine to be
cared for, decks to be swabbed, and all sorts of odd jobs that continuously present
themselves one has no time or inclination to boredom in fact at times it seems as
though the trivia of keeping the conveyance going would interfere with the proper
appreciation of the ever changing scenes presean 46d. But given the proper waterway,
a group of congenial friends interested in travel such a small boat trip becomes
not only an escape mechanism, but may also develop into adventure.


*


-2-





-3-


Where, then, is such a waterway which will offer to the traveller not only changes
of scene, bird and animal life, but also escape and possibly adventure? Is there a
stream which will offer to the boatman these things and still be one which is not too
despoiled by man or nature? To those who have travelled by small boat in the United
Sates of America there are probably numerous such streams which will be brought to
mind and which can offdr opportunities for true travel. The river to be described in
this story is one which can give to the traveller much pleasure, much satisfaction
and to the amateur much adventure. Would you wish to travel a narrow, swift, and
crooked river? Would you like it better if this river also added to these attributes
a mysterious mixture of light and gloom due to the impenetrable swamps and forest that
border it? Would this river be more appealing if it were known that there were few
habitations along its ninety mile reach? Would it be more pleasing to you to know






















Such a River Is the Oklawaha

that as yet this river is not too much spoiled by man and his works, and that the ef-
fect of nature in the past few decades has been such as to add to the beauty of seane
and variety of forest? Would it interest you to know that this river can be treach-
erous to the unwary because of its current and sometimes unpredictable wanderings into
the forest where there are no banks? Fifty and seventy-five years ago people came from
all over the world to travel on this mysterious stream, taking passage on a well adwer-
tised boat line which served to open this wonderland of nature, yet which has been for-
gotten almost as completely as the river. Would you care to travel this stream which
Sidney Lanier in 1873 called "the sweetest waterway in the world"? Would you become
more curious to see the headwaters of this river at beautiful Silver Springs, Fla.?
Silver Springs is known to almost all tourists who visit Florida yet few have ever ap-
proached it from the Oklawaha river, the only proper appraaektfor anyone who would
really appreciate the magnificence and amasing qualities of the tremendous water supply
beginning at these springs. Would you care to know a river like this? Such a river
is the Oklawaha.





-4-


THE OKIAWAHA RIVER


Chapter One


Florida has been advertised and vociferously proclaimed the winter playgeeund
of America. Numerous and variegated posters, pictures, movie shorts and radio blares
are used to entice the traveller to Florida. Newspapers, time tables, brochures,
magazines and novels are full of the varied beauties and recreational facilities to
be found in this bizarre state of unusual contrasts. The usual pictures offered to
the would-be tourist are those of palm trees, beautiful wide beaches, bevies of gor-
geous bathing beauties, lush tropical race parks, shuffleboard or bowling courts,
sail regattas, fishing fleets or beautifully dhaded streets in quiet, small towns.
Tranquil scenes of waterfront estates, amazing real estate developments, picturesque
views of pqular waterways, aeroplanes over wide beaches and weird scenes of the Ever-
glades and Lake Okeechobee are added to the usual chamber of commerce blurbs which
attempt to induce visitors to come to this or that particular spot in Florida. Fish-
ing scones on rivers and lakes, grinning boys of twenty to eighty kneeling over dead
deer and dogs poised at quail coveys are pictured to beguile the sportsman, while ex-
passive views of broad orange tree acerage advertise the state to many others. These
are a few of the kaleidoscope which is Florida. But among all of the attractions in FTbr
ida there is one whibh is no longer advertised, yet which for fifty years drew visitors
from all over the globe. Today it is hardly known, is seen by only a few, and has re*
turned to a state of natural, wild beauty and solitude which make it a paradise for
one adventuring to see the new and different.

This famous, though little known, attraction is the Oklawaha river. Tourists by
the thousands go home from Florida to all the states in the union filled with sighs
and ecstatic breathing of the beauties of Silver Springs. They marvel at the clarity
of the water even to forty foot depths and are impressed by the underwater fairyland
which they see craned over the glass bottom of the special boats. They may ride a
few miles down the clear and beautiful Silver run on a conducted jungle cruise to see
the natural beauty and the imported monkeys. They may remark on the quiet of the flow
of the tremendous volume of water as it passes by the well ordered park. They mail
home post cards and picture folders by the thousands and drive off with the famous and
familiar bumper banner "See Silver Springs". But few seem to curious to know where
all this leads to and fewer still seem to have heard of the eventual junction of the
Silver run and the Oklawaha river seven miles away. The fact that this river then
flows north and then east to eventually Join the St.Johns river after fifty three tor-
tuous and twisted miles through scenes of densest jugle and lovely forest is forgotten
if known at all* To most people the history of this river when a lively steamboat
commerce existed on it is unknown. That pur grandparents came by boat to Silver
Springs on the famous Hart Line cruise from Palatka is not only infrequently known,
but seems to produce a look of doubt and disinterest, or at best polite murmurs of
"oh yes, how interesting."

Halfway across the Florida peninsula, and approximately halfway between Orlando
and Ocala, lies a group of lakes, all of them fairly large and all connected to another
by nature or by man. The largest of these, Lake Apopka, is the highest and therefore
the farthest source of the Oklawaha river. Lake Apopka flows northward by a canal
into Lake Beuclair which is connected with Lake Dora* Lake Dora is connected by a
natural waterway with Lake Eustis. Lake Eustis is connected by a sluggish stream with
Lake Harris, the second largest of these lakes. Lake Eustis empties by Haines creek
into Lake Griffin which at its northern end becomes the channel of the Oklawaha river
at Starke's ferry. Lake Yale, a smaller lake north of Lake Eustis, is connected by a
canal flowing west with Lake Griffin. The following table shows the elevation of these
lakes above sea levels





Mean Low Water Ordinary Stage Mean High Water
Lake Apopka 63.80 68.00 70.00
Lakes Dora & Beauclair 62.23 63.73 65.23
Lake Eustis 61.17 62.92 64.67
Lake Harris 60.97 63.47 65.97
Lake Griffin 56.52 58.77 61.02
From this table it can be seen that there is a considerable flow from these lakes
into Lake Griffin which is the beginning of the river channel. The changes in the
levels of Lake Eustis and Lake Harris between high and low water stages will explain
why the flow between these lakes may be reversed or at a standstill, hence the nmame
"Dead River* which is given to the sluggish stream between these two lakes. The dif-
ference of five feet between Lake Eustis and Lake Griffin will explain why the current
in Haines creek is so swift even though it is a narrow, shallow channel lined with
water lily pads, which the people here call bonnets. All these lakes except Lake
Griffin are clear of floating vegetations and relatively free of hyacinths. The vol-
ume of water which flows out of these lakes all year round must come from springs as
the drainage area of these lakes is only twenty miles from east to west and thirty
miles from north to south, an area hardly large enough to supply a constant river
flqw all year round by rainfall.

It is amazing when one studies a map of this lake region to realize that twenty miles
south of Lake Apopka the drainage of this ridge land is south through the Kissimmee
river; that ten miles west of Lake Harris the drainage is westerly from Lake Panasof-
kee through the Withlacoochee river; that northwestward of these lakes and the Okla-
waha river the Suwanee and Sante Fe rivers drain southwestard and that thirty miles
east of these lakes and the river the St.Johns river flows directly north. The area
drained by the Oklawah river is therefore a narrow, limited valley, yet one filled
with much swampland, especially in the lower reaches of the river where it runs east
to join the broad valley of the St.Johns. In the river's northward course it runs be-
tween two ridges of high land, the eastern being the scrub abd forest LWd of the
Ocala National Forest. The topography of this land which confines the valley of the
Oklawaha explains in part why the river flows so swiftly from a relatively small drain-
age area. Two other factors contributing to the speed of flewarep of course, the
elevation of the lakes and the volume of water poured into this river from Silver
Springs, the stream falling about 0.7 foot every mile.

From the foot of Lake Griffin at its northern end, the Oklawaha river flows north-
ward through a swampy valley which has been changed into a productive farming area
by means of canals. These canals replace the old channel of the Oklawaha and take
the flow of the river from Starke's ferry at the northern end of Lake Griffin to a
point called Heather Island in a large, beautiful, young cypress swamp about fifteen
miles north. There are two canals, the J.D. Young canal and the Kyle-Young canal.
These are connected at Moss Bluff by a lock and a dam where there is a lift of about
twelve feet. The upper canal, the J.D.Young, is approximately ten miles long, the
lower is the Kyle~fPang canal about five miles long. The Kyle-Young canal was dug
first as a drainage ditch to reclaim lands bordering upon this stretch of the river.
The upper canal, the J.D. Young, was made to keep a steady flow of water impounded
behind a dam which allowed water to fall for the development of hydroelectric power.
After leaving the Kyle-Young canal, the flow of the Oklawaha river is still northward.
It passes through as delightful a panorama of cypress forest and swamp as one could
Imagine, joining the Silver run about ten miles north of Heather Island. These ten
miles of river are all that remain of what was known in the early navigation days as
the upper Oklawaha. The average width of this section of the river is twenty five to
fifty feet with an average low water depth of three feet. The average discharge is


approx 4gely one hundred t ry five second-feet at low water in this upper river.
It is possibly the most beautiful ten miles of the whole Oklawaha river course.


-5-






-6-


About ten miles east of Ocala is the
junction of the Oklawaha with the Silver
run near a high point of land, Colby Land-
ing, at which the cross state road from
Ocala to Daytona Beach passes over the riv
A a4 or. Of this junction, not a half mile a-
way, few of the thousands of rushing motor-
ists are aware as they thunder over the
bridge, in fact, few are impressed by the
river which here is fairly narrow, but the
e bboatman as he leaves the Silver run into
the Oklawaha river slows down as he blows
his horn to open the bridge. A most amazing
feature of this junction is the linear des
smarcation of the two streams of water for
about one hundred yards, the clear blue
flood of the Silver run distinct and sep-
Sarate from the dark, brown of the Oklawaha
Leaving Welika in the early orninig mist ee before they blend into a murky mixture that
Resembles strong tea.
From this point on the river flows faster due to its greatly increased volume of flow,
now about eight hundred second-feet. The speed of the current is variously estimated by
different boatmen as bewteen two and five miles per hour, with an official measurement
by the United States Engineers giving the figure as one and two tenths miles per houri
this measurement being made along a straight stretch not too much affected by eddies. In
some of the very narrow stretches or in some of the eddies produced by sharp curves the
speed may be considerably more than this latter figure.

From the junction with the Silver run, the Oklawaha
flows fifty-three miles to its outlet where it flows into
the St. Johns River. For about sixteen miles it runs
north northeasterly to Sunday Bluff, then due north for
another sixteen miles where it turns sharply to flow east
southeast for ten miles to Riverside Landing after which
it flows due east to the St. Johns where that river sud-
denly widens above Welaka to become Little Lake George.
SThis fifty-three mile stretch of the river is a series of
tortuous curves and doubling back of a channel through al-
most continuous swamp, broken here and there by landings
on high ground, but few are the houses or people to be
seen. For most of these miles the river has no real banks
and at times seems to wander off into the dense forests,
sometimes dividing to leave the uninitiated in a quandry
as to which branch to take. Most of the creeks which flow
into the Oklawaha are so overgrown as to give no trouble
as one proceed up river. Between the junction of the Okli
waha and the Silver run there are upwards of two hundred
curves, and in this reach of the river, the so-called low-
er Oklawaha, there are about twenty landings, two ferry
crossings and one bridge, after one leaves Colby Landing
bridge near Ocala.


e enter th.e ...bresd;r rea scho of the Oklawaha ek -- the St. hh's








Chapter Two


The Oklawaha River has a peculiar
history. e exitioned casually in official
reports and travellers tales from the
earliest records of Florida, this river
never seemed to arouse interest in the
explorer or excite exploration by newcom-
ers. Travel seemed to bypass the river
to the east along the broad reaches of
the St. Jebns and to the west down the
old Indian trails between wLat is new
Tampa and the old Indian settlements in
Alachua and along the Suwanee river. The
famed Silver Spring probably drew visi-
tors even in early days when it was chief-
ly a place for Indian encampments, but no-
n the river is narrower and croked where in his famed book does Bartram men-
tion the Oklawaha or Silver Springs, even
"though he travelled overland from the St.
Johns to the Suwanee at Oldtown. The river seemed to offer hazards to travel because of
its current and its devious course, so that even when travelled it did not excite much
comment. Moreover, we know from the records of the opening of the river to steamboat
travel that innumerable obstructions, snags and choking of the channel by floating veg-
etation impeded travel and exploration.

One of the earliest official investigations of the Oklawaba river was made in Flor-
ida's territorial days. In 1826 the United States engineers under the direction of
General Barnard made a survey of possible routes fee a ship canal across Florida. By
means of a $20,000 grant from Congress, a number of river routes were investigated, and
the conclusion was reached that a canal using the Oklawaha river was the most feasible,
because the highest elevation along
the proposed line was found to b3
only eighty feet. Further plans
were not made because the work was
reported to be of such magnitude as
to require national attention, so
that the territorial councils devot-
ed their energies to the encourage-
ment of minor canals. A similar can-
al was propeed with particular force
by interested parties after the war
between the states. This canal was
to link the Withlacoochee river with
the Oklawaha river by way of Blue
Spring and Silver Spring. This pro-
ject called for a canal sixty-two
miles long, thirty feet deep and two
-hhundred feet wide and was estimated


to cost $8,500,000. These figures ae
of interest when compared with those
of the present-day proposed cross
7 J ft-state ship or barge canal upon which
construction was actually begun in the
early nineteen thirties.
Looking Down the Oklawaha into the St.Johns





-8-


The records would indi-
cate that during the 5emin-
ole wars there were a num-
ber of forts either on the o
Oklawaha river or near it as
numerous skirmishes and Indi-
an raids occurred as a result
of the protection afforded
by the thick end impenetrable
cypress swamps. The memory
of these days is reinforced
by the name Osceola's Last
Field which is given to one
of the high banks which the
river is cutting away.

In the eighteen fifties
it would seem as if lumbering
of the extensive cypress for-
eats had begun, for there aree
numerous records of pole barge .......
operators who began to bring
out logs after cessation of'Wmy overhung creeks enter the Oklawaha
hostilities with the Indians. iy ee e t s

Une of the first records that .e have of exploration of the Oklawaha river, ,or the
pleasure of exploration, is that of Daniel Brinton, who in 1856 spent a whole week tedi-
ously poling his way up this gloomy and tortuous river to Silver Springs. To one who
has spent a day chugging a cruiser the same distance against the current and arou-nd some
five hundred bends, this feat seems stupendous, especially when one consIders the number
of obstructions he may have met, and the paucity of sttlmtrents there were then. His re-
port was published in 1359. It soon stimulated others to visit the river and soon there
were settlements along its banks and timbering bhgan to assume more importance. In the
early 3ixties power driven boat. First appeared on the Oklawaha, the earliest ones on the
records being the "Jamrs Burt" .
and the "Silver Spring". With
the coming of war to the south- -
and the occupation of north ,,H
Florida by Federal forces, the
St. Johns river became -losed to
blockade runners as faar south as
Palatka. The Oklawaha river then
became a link in a route for bloc
kade running of cotton from west
Florida. Cotton was brought to
Waldo Lear Jainesville, carried
by ox-cart to Fort Brooke onte
UklaAaha where it was loaded onL .
small boats and seoit down river
to the St. Johns, then up the St.
Johns to Lake Harney, from whence
it was carried overland to Titis-
ville on the Indian river. Here
it was loaded on ,iall privateers
and exchanged for small arms, me


icines and other supplies which
these boats had managed to slip Daveaport, seven miles freo the mouth
through the blockade, which was





-9-


being maintained by the Federal navy. This blockade, however, was net so effective along
the eastern Florida shore, due to the lack of ports and the shallow depth of the inlets
into which blockade runners could.go. But attempts to destroy this trade route along
its St. Johns river extension were manifested by the frequent excursions of Federal gun-
boats into Lake George. Reerds show that the "James Burt" and the "Silver Spring' saw
service in this trade. In March 1864 the "General Suateoiwas captured on Lake George
and the "Emma White" was sunk near the Volusia bar at the south end of this lake. One
of the gunboats active along this part of the St. John's river was ambushed and captured
in May 1864 by a cavalry attack, a most unusual sort of warfare. This was the "Columbine"
wnich suffered much damage and loss of life from Capt. J.J. Dickisen and his men. This
Dickison was known as the Marion of Florida and was responsible for keeping the Federals
away from Welaka, Gainesville and Waldo, three places important to the south in keeping
this chain of supply secure. It is interesting that one of the small boats taken off
the "OMumbino" should the next year be the means of Breckenridge, the Confederate secre-
tary of war, escapingup the St. John's river to Lake Harney, thence across country to
Titusville and the Indian river from which escape to Cuba finally ensued.
There is no record to show that Federal forces ever penetrated the Oklawaha river it-
self, though there were attempts to establish a garrison at 'elaka across from the river's
mouth. That the southerners expected some such attempts can be conjectured when one ex-
amines the land at Davenport seven miles up the river from Welaka. Here is a high bluff
rising steeply from the south shore at one of the sharp right angle turns so that the
eminence has a good down river view. Even today (1949| there is yet evident a small re-
doubt, thrown up in such a way that guns emplaced in it commanded the river against any
vessel proceeding up river. Close examination of this ground leaves one in no doubt as
to the military eye of the one who chose the location and planned the direction of its
curve so as to minimize the effects of opposing fire. When the Federal forces occupied
dblatka, the citizens of that town were evacuated to Orange Springs near Fort Brooke on
the Oklawaha. These twp places were never occupied during the war. The history of the
Oklawaha river during the war is the history of the boats engaged in blockade running.
Most of these beats at some time or other were the property of H.L. Hart, originally a
Vermonter, but during the
war in the pay of the Con
federate government. He
came out of the war with t
the title of "Colonel",
though there are ne offi-
cial records of such a
commission. He came out
of the war a rich man,
having converted his Con-
federate money into real
property. When later the
Federal government paid
him good money and lands.
along the Oklawaha for
his efforts and zeal in
opening the river for
further navigation, the
history of the river be-
came even more the story
of the steamboating efforts
of klubbard L. Hart. It
was the untiring aim of
this one man to open up
the Oklawaha river to col-


onization, agricultural
development and the tour Fish lines across the mouth of a small creek
ist trade. The beauties the th of a small
of this river have always






-10-


appealed, both to 6he traveller and those in search of new
ages of settlemen.u along its banks or the cutting of the
swamps awaited only the opening of this impassable river.
enel Hart set himself in the years following the Aar.


lands to develop. The advan-
huge cypress forests in its
This was the task which Col-


In the late eighteen sixties Colonel Hart built three more boats. He had finished
the war with the old "Silver Spring". By 1869 he had alse the "Griffin", the Ocklawaha"
and the'Tansoffkee". As the "Silver Spring" soon disappeared from the records, these
three beats constituted the Hart line until the middle seventies these were the beats
that established the early reputation of the Hart line for safety and dependability.
These were the boats that saw the opening of the channel through to Lake Harris. Photo-
graphs of twe, the "Ocklawaha" and the "Pansoffkee", exist, showing them to be ugly,
squat, l1unt-bowed and scow-like with a crude shanty type cabin surmounted by a low
pilot house. These early beats had as their means of propulsion the characteristic
boxed stern wheel which was to appear on virtually all Oklawaha steamers to be seen
later. These stern wheels were completely invisible from abeam, so ,ar were they set
into a stern cleft. Any other type of stern wr side wheel could not have been used be-
cause of the sharp bends and twists of the river and some of the extremely narrow reaches
through which the river"'flows. Descriptions of these beats have come down to us in the
writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Cullen Bryant who saw them in 1873. Re-
cords show that at first these boats spent as much or more time in the operation of
clearing the river as they did in hauling passengers or freight. This tedious and ex-
hausting operation consumed upwards of thee years, but with it went the establishment
of river traffic as an almost complete monopoly of the Hart line.

After the clearing of the Oklawaha river to Lake Harris, Colonel Hart next sought
to extend navigation to the gulf of Mexico. Organizing the Withlacoochie and Lake Pan-
soffka Steamboat and Canal Gompany, he then had Senator Osborn introduce a bill in the
ferty-firbt Congress which would have given his company 400,000 acres of public lands
as aid for the digging of a canal from Lake Harris to Lake Panseffka. This canal was
to be sixty feet wide, sit feet deep with locks capable of passing beats net less than
thirty feet wide and one hundred feet long. Included in the project was the deepening
of the Withlacoochie river to "navigable water" in order to make stambeating complete
from the Atlantic to the gulf
of Mexico. That the bill was
never considered after its a
reading*was no fault of Col- .
onel Hart. So the Colonel
turned to the means at hand.
With no railroads to Palatka
or any point on the Oklawaha
er its parent lakes, his beats
were a necessity. The busit
ness began to boom, schedules
were deawn up and even compe-
tition began. In 1869 boats
were running from Jacksonville
to the headwaters of the Okla-
waha. These schedules seemed
to be dependent en the arriv-
al days of the coastwise
steamers from Charleston and
Savannah, which in these days
came to Palatka as a terminus
rather than Jacksonville.

I'T* lIwer i iiwa a -





-11-


In the eighteen seventies the history
of the Oklawaha river is the history of its
steamboats. Sugar and indigo plantations
which had sorung up along its banks between
the end of the Seminole wars and war in the
sixties now gave way to more homesteads with
small farms, lumber camps, and the later im-
portant industry, citrus culture. Settlers
came into the valley, developed farms, small
communities, trading points and orange groves,
especially in the region of the headwater
lakes. But the river itself now became not
only a trade and settlement route, but also
a scenic trip for tourists. This develop-
ment was speeded by the writings of Daniel
Brinton, Willian Cullen Bryant, Harriet 'eeche
Stowe and Sidney Lanier. Soon Silver Springs became tle focal point for tourists, but with
no railroad into central Florida, the Oklawaha river was their only avenue of travel, and
of itself became a scoeic drawing card.

By 1870, boats were making regularly scheduled trips from Jacksonville to 0kahumka
on Lake Harris, a sign that the Hart line with its terminus at Palatka was meeting competi-
tion. That these boats never gave very serious competition is to be inferred by their
disappearance from this route by 1880 with no available records as to their names, tonnage
carried or mention in the various rhapsodic travel accounts which exist. The first beat
to compete locally on the Cklab8a with tbe Hart boats was the "Marion". Her picture and
description are available today because of Lanier's account of is trip on her and records
in the iart line folders, for this boat like almost all others on the Oklawaha, either had
a short life or became a member of the Hart line fleet. Another boat, the "Tuscawilla",
built at Leesburg on Lake Harris in 1875 was probably a competitor at first, as all the
Hart boats were built in Palatka, and in a certain style, which was strangely contrasted
to the more polished and finished appearance of this boat. The "Tuacawilla" remains on
record because of her picture in the Hart line collection, which with certain other facts
would lead one to suppose that she too joined the Hart line fleet. She does not appear
on the "List of American Merchant Vesseld' after 1887, but old settlers in Lake county af-
firm that she sank in Lake Harris in 1893. One other boat to appear, fleetingly, in this
decade was the "Forester", not a recessed sternwheeler, and the first to be reported sunk
in the Oklawaha, about 1880.

It was during this decade that the
liart line expanded. The thbee boats, i
"Pansofkee", "Ocklawaha", and "Griffid'
which had established the reputation
of the line began to wear out and were
found unsuitable for the growing pas-
senger trade which required larger and
more cormmodious vessels, though this
requirement was subject to limitations
imposed by the crooked and narrow Okla-
waha. Too, the freight loads were in-
creasing, and this remained the basis
for the steamboating business, since
there was as yet no railroad competi-
tion. The "Pansofkee' disappeared in


1875 and the names cf' "Griffin" and thei -
'Ocklawaha" disappeared from the Lists e nose into the bank for repairs








in 1878. Jy this time new
boats had made their appear-
ance. In 1873 the "Okahump-O
kee" was built in Palatka.
Surviving a name change to
'skeehumpkee" and at Ilest two
major rebuidings, this boat
was to become the grandfather
of all Oklwanoia river boats.
She w ets in service from t16,
to 1920, almost continuously,
in spite o cm vnP-tj -r vi i.
larger and later boats, a
challenge which was met by
enlarging her. Many pictures
of this boat in her various
stwiges exist. A running mate
to the "Ckahubutpkee" was sent
down the ways in PalatKa in
1874. She, too, was named
after an Indian chief, this
one after Osceola who so re-
cently had raised the war
whoop along the course shea
was to ply. The dimensions, Riversiie a deserted fishing camp
specifications, engine and
deck plans of these boats are left to 1s in the yearly "Lists of American Merchant V'essel"
ond the Hart Line folosr', sch-edules and materials now in the hands of Hart's descendents,
named Thompson, of East ialatka, Florida. So at the beginning of the eighteen eighties, the
Hart fleet consisted of only two boats instead of three, but Lhese two boats were better
equipped to handle larger vclzmes of freight and passengers. Moreover, ,the fleet was soon
to be augmented by the acquisition of the "Marion" and the "Tuscawilla".

One event which altered the steamboating picture on the Oklawaha river in this decade
was the fact that in 1878 was accomplished the dredg-
ing of the St. John's river bar. This development en-
abled ocean going steamers to come up the St. John's
to Jacksonville. As a result, the boating trade from
Pernandina to Jacksonville and Palatka withered. In-
stead of transhipping at Fernan~dina to small vessels
which plied the inLracoastal lagoons to go up river,
large vessels now went directly to Jacksonville. Here
larger river boats like the "Frederick deBary" ad
Lhe "City of Jacksonville" then proceeded up river
to Palatka and Enterprise. These being faster and
crre lu'uricus than the Jacksonville to Okahu pka
boats soon put these scheduls out of existence, leav-
ing the dart Line with its terminus at ~alatka as the
chief carrier of Oklawaha trade and pacsengers. The
only competition left at the e~ci of te severities Nas
from the boats built in Lake county, beats which all
seemed eventually to become members of the Hart fleet.
So Colonel Hart faced the beginning of the eighties
with good prospects as the trade and settling of the
Oklawaha vallev w -


Ikness and light along the gl y .Ol Wawal
irknoms and light along the glee.y Oklawa|






-13-


Chapter Three


B Beginning with the year 1880, The Okiawaha
river entered one of the most important periods
of its history. It was during the decade and a
half between 1880 and 1895 that travel on this
river reached its greatest proportions. It was
during these years that this riNer achieved
fame throughout the country as one of its great-
est scenic wonders. Though the railroads to
central Florida were developed during this same
time and much f the freight hauling passed
from water to land conveyance, these years saw
ar Landing and C r Lading ferry more beats and passengers go up and down from
Palatka to Silver Springs than in any other com-
parable period. Advertising of the route, either
by satisfied customers or by the boat line oper-
ators directly, began to assume ridiculous pro-
portions as each writer tried to outdo the other
in the use of adjectives and superlatives. Lut
freight loads, if not increasing, remained Hteady
and schedules were increased in frequency in or-
der to accommodate the numerous tourists who came
to see this wonder of nature. hiT period may
well be called the golden a-e of the Oklawaha.

At the beginning of this important p riod,
the Hart line had but te boats, the "Okeehump-
kee" and the "Osceola"; but two boats were soon
added The first newcomer to the fold was the
"Marion", formerly of the Gray line but purchas-
ed by Col. Hart late in 1880, and Gray, #the for-
er owner retired from the competitive business by joining forces with Hart, becoming one of
Hart's river captains, and a favorite one with the tourists. The second addition of this l er-
tod was the "Astatula", built at Pi&atka in 1881, and typical of Ahe Hart line beats. With
these four beats, the colonel then had a sizeable fleet of passenger steamers with which to
accemedate all the freight and passengers that the river seemed to attract. It was new pos-
sible to have a beat leave Pilatka daily, and have one returning from up river at the same
time. By running at night the trip up
could be accomplished under twenty-four
hours, and thus it could be said in these
years that the Hart line was always en the'
Oklawaha. It was during this same period
that many journals and guide books of tra-
vel in Wlorida appeared, all zealously if
net accurately, Idvertising the beauties o
this river and the peculiarities of the
craft engaged in the run. One or the most
favored and best remembered features of
these writers was the illumination used by
these boats in order to run at night. This
was accomplished by burning "lighter knots"
in a large metal bowl mounted on top of the
pilot house. ihe resulting eerie illumin-


action of the cypress forests and the crook-
ed lends of the water made impressions on First Higr Bank After Coeer Lauingx
the travellers more letsting than all the .
daylight beauties, so that soon the line


m m




-14-


was advertising this ghostly nocturnal ill
lumination as one of the attractive features
of the Oklawaha journeyi.tehough the original
purpose of 5his highly a a1f raining and fis rd
fire had been strictly utiltarian. it never
seemed to worry anyone that this open fire
night present a hazard toe the existence of
the beautiful forests, and as a mater of ao ct
there seeme to be no record that this open
fire of pit.h pine ever was responsible for
S tha woods fire, though when legislation wat
passed many year later in 1t15 requiring
Oklawaha steamers te have electric search-
re e lights, one of the arguments used to enact
Fort Brooke Lanin the measure was the one of f rest fire hazard.

oethe .tUheA u o ie. t
fleet whkic was available to the numerous
tourists andt famous guests such as Ulysses
3. Grant, who made the trip in 1880. A des-,
oription of the "Oso*la upon which the ex*
president travelled is available in Barbeurts
"Flerida for Tourists". He writes,"C cesrust-
ed with two decks- quite low between- as sang,
little, square-shaped what house -high up for-
ward, and a tiny lobby deok aft, with the row
of three or four littlestatereems ranad ba -
tween, they are unexcelled in the accomeda'
tions which thpy offer in the seCasty space
at command, and are much more comfortable and
.....serviceable crafts than their appearance..
would indilateo
This decade saw the rapid development of the Oklawaha lake region. Leesaurj. set*
tled in 1857, incorporated as a town in 1866, was now a thriving community. Listen
nearby, settled in 1857, remained a fartminkg settlement and a shipping point 6i Raises
Crook. On Lake Griffin were the orange greve settlements of Emeralda and Pieeiela,
both with landings at which beats could take on freight. On the west shbre of this
same lake grow up the village of Slighville, a village s o leanger in existence because
Sof the railroad which came down farther west. On Lake Harris wore the tewns OfYal-
laba and Okabmpkee, both settled before 1850, and both destined to grow as a result
,of the development of the railroad though Okahumpkee had been the head of savigatioa
Sfor many-years after the opening of the Oklawaha e It was at Yalaha that the large
Seals culture of the asparagus plumeosu fern began, a leading agricultural expert 4f '
fioeridt to this day. Rusti,- on Lake elustis, became a town in 1875. Fort Ma-sn, sear-
by, which had boa am military post saise 1830 became the seater ofa flourishing sitruAs
products. b.Lake Dora during these years the towns of Thvaread Meount Dora bogan,
with sitrues graves ad tourists as their sain business, Tavaret in the latter part of
this oea4o, became the ceouty seat of the newly formed Laki county, which the legis-
lature ha4mande possible by dividing Bunter county. The exeitOment, personal anaues-
ities and political tricks used to locate the county seat in Tavares as against ether
towns sakes interesting reading, and gives a clue t techniques and heritage f the
political game as it isplayed in Florida counties even to this dai. The early growth
of this regime had been dependent en the Oklawaha river. The first beat te took at
Looeburg had been the old "Okliwaha", which tied up there fer-the first tim en Nev. l,
1867g the first train to arrive at the same town came ia em the Florida Seuthera ail-


way on Sunday, Jan. 20, 1884. The latter oeu'rence sounded the death-kaIll for beating
on the upper Oklawaha. During those years, too, e rev the boat lines whieb limited
their activity to the lakes, another blow to the upper river trade of the Hart line,









whisk rsa befeno had superseded the Bouksigbt and then the Gray lines, thb
fir4Att i ptato beaten ea the lakes aMd the Oklawaha *ut of Leosburg. In the
eight appearedd the lake boats, which with the railroads daily handling of freight
could aore than compete with the bi-weekly er weekly rum of the Hart line. The earl
test of these, the "A.J.Lame" and the "Dispatch" seen eenviaced the astute Celoei-
that the upper Oklawaha was no longer in his desti, and by 1890, there were ma r g-
ular schedules on the upper Oklawaha, though there are recording the Hart lime papers -
of beats geing, to Leesburg in the- ties. Seen the upper Oklawaha between Lake rilffia
and Silver Springs run returned to its former wild state so that in 1903 a tourist hua.
ter could write, *We are on our way toward the untravelleod and unhunted region of the
upper Oklawaha".

But travel on the Oklawaha in the lightiee and the early Nineties was booing.
This was the era of trav61 on a river famous throughout the land as aone of nature's
leaders. Advertising for passenger business to replace the lest freight revenues be*
eame blatant, and all eanse possible were used, especially the time-ower blurbs i
ecstatic and satisfied customers. Hubbard Hart was the rajah of this tropical splea*
dor* It was by his favor and fever that the world eould cone to this paradise to wre
the ultimate in nature's beauty. That this worship enriched the Colonel's eefierl was
not incidentals Beata left Palatka daily except Sundays, and sometimes an extra b*at
was necessary. At the same time one beat was leaving Silver Springs daily te returt
to Palatka. Letters from oustomere, schedule cards, and letters from the varies heat
captains attest to the satisfactory serrive, the volume of trade and the continuous a
tivity of the line, at least during the winter mentbe, ito fan Oeteober t April. Tr
reports of various accidents, repairs and haulouts of the diffent beats give a measure
of the constant use to which they were put. On ether eeasions some of the beats were
hired for special tripe,'A as stag parties up the Oklawaha to Blue Spring near Cedar
Landing or Sunday SebI e ursions ef a ere sedate nature.

It is froe these Ha i line reerds that we glean knowledge of another biat which
was added to the Hart 4 n this decade, the "Waunita*,a beat originally obtained for
trade on the upper St*.
Johns through Lake Har,
Oey to Lake Poimsett.
When this route became
beesol4 because of the
seOuthWard extension of
the east coast rail-
road to Tituoville,
this little vessel be-
ease a spare beat on
the Oklawaha, though ,
not being a stern-
wheeler at ftrt she
was more of a risk than
an investment en the
.e~Kted river.


It was. during the
height of this booeeming
trade of the Eighties
that competition again
presented itself on
the Oklawaha. After
almost tweonty- five
years of lucrative Jra
Jordan' .,






monopoly, the spirit of competition again presented itself as Colonel Hart's
neighbors on the river, envious of his booming business attempted to establish
beats on the Oklawaha.

In 1884 a man named Waddell put a propeller and power on a river barge. No
name seems to have remained in memory or a record of this boat in the lists, so
that the only mention we have of her is her maiden trip as reported to Kart by
one of his boat captains. In 1886, a man named FoF. Harrison attempted to Threat-
en Hart by promising to build a boat in competition to the Hart line, unless the
Colonel turned over to him one of the Hart beats. There is sufficient evidence
in the Hart papers that he got no boat, and there is nas record of any beat that
he built so that one must assume his competition was mere wordy than actual. In
1888, a Captain Howard actually built and launched a beat at Norwalk on the St.
John's river, a boat which was actually used on the Oklawaha. She was origiaaily
fifty-seven feet long, and resourcefully used the boiler from the old "Princess",
an engine from the"Comet" and the wheel from the "Twilight", all boats which were
in the lists as river boats. Mitchell seems to believe that this boat was the
old "Alligator", which appeared in the lists for fifteen years as an "Inland Pas*
singer" steamer, and which was lengbhened in 1890 to seventy-one feet, became a raO
crossed sternwheeler in 1895, and was agin lengthened in 1897, this time to eighty-
seven feet. However, it is well known that Wm. S. Howard built a sixty foot beat
the"tm. S. Howard" a propeller driven boat, which ran on the Oklawaha all through
the nineties, so that some doubt remains as to which boat Captain Dunham in the
Hart papers ridiculed without ever naming her* Moreover, there is a later report
of an "alligator", about skty feet long a boat owned by a Dr. Moore of Philadel-
phiao This "Alligator* was taken through the upper Oklawaha to Okahuupka, where
Dr. Moore opened up Indian burial mounds and discovered the fine kaolin deposits
in a creek there. This "Alligator" was the one reported in Swift's "Florida Fancies"
in 1903 as aground and in distress sbwhere in the upper Oklawaha's tangle of grass
and floating islands. There is not much to show that the larger "Alligator" ever
gave the Hart line much trouble, but it is well known that the "Wa. So H wkrd",
and later the "Mary E. Howard" were constantly running the Oklawaba route and had
their share of the tour st trade and freight shipments* These were the men that
began the competition -_.......
on the Oklawaha in the
decade of its most fey
erish activity. Though
seeming to give litle
serious trouble to the
Hart line, it is im-
portant to recognize
the booming nature of
this tourist buslseas
when new boats an4 a
new line could be ps-
tablished in spite of
the fact that the rail-
roads had by the pter
eighties been well es-
tablished as the prime
carriers of supply to
and from the lakqp at
the headwaters of the
Oklawaha river.


angO Creek and Landing, eld ferry


I -- pm- 11--l --

































-d HM.oBr L ing





















hi*BI party on the Oklawaha


L*ngsit Ti$ length Oklw o h


































































Q1U river channel disappea.ring into.the weeds
























Hunting cabin about twenty-six miles up river


View of the river fre4 hituiting cabin


-Hunting 3a( fishu l4fge























bqeoe Patch ferry-litt l left..t0 *09W


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e coame suddenly upon EurekaBridge








































































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