Title: Swamp and overflow lands of Florida
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Title: Swamp and overflow lands of Florida
Series Title: Swamp and overflow lands of Florida
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Creator: Rose, R. E.
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The Swamp and

Overflow Lands of Florida


The Disston Drainage Company
and The Disston Purchase


A REMINISCENCE

...-By--.-
R. E. ROSE
State Chemist


Having often been asked to prepare a shott history of,
and the reasons for, the organization of the Disston
Drainage Company, on January 25, 1881, to drain and
reclaim some 15,000,000 acres of "Swamp and Ovegowed
Lands" in Florida, and the subsequent purchase, of
Hamilton Disston, and his associates, of Philadelphia,
of 4,000,000 acres of "Swamp and Overflowed Lands" for
$1,0000000.0-0 on June 1, 1881; the conditions existing at
the time, and the reasons for undertaking these great
projects of Internal Improvement and Development of
Florida's latent resources, at that time dormant; having
been closely allied with the various Disston enterprises,
particularly the Drainage Company, from their in-
cipiency; having been employed as resident engineer aid
general representative of the Drainage Company in June
1881; having probably been more familiar with these en,
terprises, their various problems and obstacles and the
435b07'*












methods employed to overcome them, .than any other
individual now a resident of Florida, I have consented to
prepare the following short history.
These various transactions, the details, reasons and
causes therefore, are recorded in the minutes of the Trus-
tees of the Board of Internal Improvement, particularly
in Volumes One, Two, Three and Four, covering that
period of time from January 1855, to the end of Gov-
ernor William D. Bloxham's second term, December
1899, with some of the problems, incidental to the drain-
age of the Everglades now being accomplished by the
State, as recorded in later volumns.
The history of the "Swamp and Overflowed Land
Grant" by the United States to Florida, (Sept. 28, 1850);
the "Railroad Land Grant," of 1856; the various "Semi-
nary, and Public School Land Grants;" the creation of
the "Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement
Fund," in,1885; and amendments to the Act in 1859 and
1869; show that the State received from the General
Government, for different purposes, practically 20,000,000
acres of land, including Seminary, School, Internal Im-
provement, and Swamp and Overflowed Land Grants.
During the period from 1855 until December 1872 prac-
tically all the lands of the Fund were pledged for con-
structing Railroads, and for the payment of Railroad
construction bonds and interest thereon, or were granted
for construction of canals or improvement of streams,
resulting in the practical bankruptcy of the Fund in
December, 1872, when by a decree of the United States
Circuit Court of the Northern District of Florida a re-
ceiver was appointed and the entire assets of the Fund
placed in his custody for the benefit of the creditors of
the Fund.
The history of the Fund from this date, December,
1872, until January, 1881, the beginning of the first term







-4:



of Governor William D. Bloxham, was one of litigation '"
and sacrifice of the lands, and securities of the Fund..

GOVERNOR BLOXHAM'S FIRST ADMINISTRATION.

When Governor William D. Bloxham was inaugurated
in January, 1881, he found the "Internal Improvement
Fund" bankrupt and in the hands of a receiver, under a
decree of the United States Circuit Court. The lands
of the Fund, under the decree, were being sold by the
receiver and the proceeds credited on the judgments.
Warrants, or certificates, issued by the creditors under
the decree, were being sold at 40% of their face value and
were being used as cash at par, in the purchase of State
lands.
Governor Bloxham interested Hamilton Disston, and
associates, of Philadelphia, in the drainage of the Swamp
and Overflowed Lands of the State.
Governor Bloxham, holding that the "trust to drain
and reclaim the swamp and overflowed lands" was the
first and prior trust; that under the terms of the grant,
"that the proceeds of said lands, whether from sale or by
direct appropriation in kind, shall be applied exclusively,
as far as necessary, to the purpose of reclaiming said
lands by means of the levees and drains aforesaid ;" and
recognizing the necessity, and the vast importance of
the State's development by the drainage of the wet lands
of the State-made the first well considered and properly
devised drainage contract with Hamilton Disston and
associates, of Philadelphia, on January 25, 1881, a few
days after his inauguration.
Subsequently, it being discovered that under the decree
alluded to, permitting the sale of the lands and other
securities of the Fund, and the applying of the proceeds
to the payment of the judgments by the receiver, no
binding contract could be made by the Trustees with Mr.
Disston, without the consent of the judgment creditors;













Governor Bloxham induced Mr. Disston and associates
to purchase 4,000,000 acres of swamp and overflowed land
for $1,000,000, with which the entire indebtedness of the
Fund was paid off, the Fund relieved of the incubus and
placed in a sound financial condition, thus releasing some
seventeen million acres of swamp and overflowed lands
and other lands of the Internal Improvement Fund.
(June 1, 1881).
No action of any Governor of Florida since the grant-
ing of the swamp and overflowed lands to the State for
"drainage and reclamation" September 28, 1850, has had
a greater influence upon the development of the State of
Florida, her railroads, water ways, the settlement of her
waste places, than had this wise and business-like trans-
action by Governor William D. Bloxham, who not only
rescued this vast domain from bankruptcy, paid off all
indebtedness, inaugurated the drainage of the wet lands,
but also released for public improvement some seventeen
million acres of her best lands.
At the beginning of Governor Bloxham's first adminis-
tration, January, 1881, there were few railroads in the
State, the only line across the State was the old "F.ernan-
dina, Cedar Key Road" with a branch to Jacksonville;
no railroad to Ocala, none to Tampa; the U. S. mails
were carried to Tampa by stage, via Ocala, Sumpter-
ville and Brooksville; no railroads south of J4cksonville,
excepting the "Tocoy and St. Augustine" and the "South
Florida," from Sanford to Orlando twenty-two miles,
narrow gauge, built and owned by the "Boston Herald;"
no railroad from Tallahassee to Pensacola. Immediately
after the Disston sale and the release of the lands of the
fund numerous railroads were chartered, and old chart-
ers revived, while extravagant legislative grants were
made to various proposed railroads, granting vast areas
far in excess of that provided by the General Law, to-wit:
3849 acres per mile (the alternate section within six











miles of the railroad). Eight, ten, twelve, and even
twenty thousand acres per mile were granted by the
Legislatures to various railroads and projected railroads.
A number of these were built, and before the expiration
of Governor Bloxham's first administration railroads
were in existence, to Tampa via Ocala, also to Tampa via
Sanford, Orlando and Kissimmee, and from Tallahassee
to Pensacola.
The development of the State, the building of railroads,
the influx of settlers, the growth of new cities and towns'
was phenomenal during the four years of Governor Blox-
ham's first term, ending January, 1885.
During subsequent administrations various legisla-
tures granted vast areas of land to various proposed rail-
roads, far in excess of the acreage owned by the State.
These various charters and grants fortunately embraced
a clause that the lands-so granted were "subject to the
trust to drain and reclaim the same" as provided by the
grant for that purpose by the National Government in
1850.
During the period between Governor Bloxham's first
and second terms,. January 1885 to January 1897-
twelve years-the history of the Fund was one of ex-
travagant legislative grants anj litigation by various
claimants under these varioijrants, some of which had
been earned, and numbers of which had never complied
with the terms of their grants or charters.

GOVERNOR RLOXHAM'S SECOND ADMINISTRATION.

On again assuming control of the executive office, Gov-
ernor Bloxham found that the I. I. Fund was again bank-
rupt, with various claims, land certificates, and open
grants, covering some seven and one-half .millions of
acres of lands in excess of the entire acreage originally
granted to the state for all purposes, with judgments for
large sums against the fund..












Assuming that the "trust to drain and reclaim the
swamp and overflowed lands" of the State, under the
trust assumed by the State, was superior to any other
claim, as had been recognized in various legislative land
grants, he again endeavored to, and did, inaugurate a
plan and made a contract for the purpose of draining the
"Everglades"-a part only, some five million acres,-of
the original grant of seventeen millions of acres of
swamp and overflowed lands. This contract was never
completed, the contractors failing to comply with their
contract, largely influenced by the adverse claims to the
lands by various corporations, the assignees of various
railroads, some of which had been constructed and some
of which had not. The fund was again banqrupt, with
claims for some seven and one-half million acres more
than the fund possessed and for large sums of money.
Governor Bloxham, by his wise and business-like
administration of the lands and money of the fund and
his determination "That the trust assumed by the State
to drain and reclaim the swamp and over-flowed lands"
should be carried out in good faith, managed to transmit
to his successor, Governor W. S. Jennings, the fund, still
intact, though involved in litigation and hampered by
injunctions tying up all of their resources, both lands
and money.

GOVERNOR JENNINGS' ADMINISTRATION.

Governor Wiliam S. Jennings assumed the office in
January, 1901, and believing, as did Governor Bloxham,
that "the trust to drain and reclaim the swamp and over-
flowed lands" was superior to legislative grants, and
knowing that the charters of various railroads had
accepted the legislative grants of land "subject to the
trust to drain and reclaim the same," continued the legal
battles, resisting the claims of the grantees and their
assigns successfully, and to a large extent prevented the












waste of the fund. He also succeeded in having patented
to the State that large body of swamp and overflowed
lands the "Everglades,," which until then had never been
formally ceded to the State by patent, though embraced
in the "Swamp and overflowed land grant of 1850."
This determined opposition to the claims of individuals,
corporations and assignees to the lands and moneys of
the fund, and his successful defense of the same laid the
foundation for the successful inauguration of the State's
effort to drain and reclaim the Everglades, by Governor
N. B. Broward, and for the compromise with the various
claimants, after, a successful legal battle in the various
U. S. District, and Circuit Courts of appeals, and pend-
ing an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

GOVERNOR BROWARD'S ADMINISTRATION.
Governor Napolean B. Broward succeeded Governor
William S. Jennings, January, 1905. He was elected
after an active campaign, the issue of which was the
"drainage of the Everglades and the release to the people
of the State, for the general welfare, the lands covered
by various claims of various kinds, based generally on
legislative grants to railroads."
The history of Governor Broward's campaign, his plea
to "reclaim the lands for the people of the State, and to
drain them for the benefit of the whole State," is so
recent that a reference to this wonderful campaign is not
necessary at this time.
Governor Broward found the fund still practically
bankrupt, its cash ($332,979) tied up by injunctions, also
the sale of lands, or use of the proceeds of such sales
enjoined.
DRAINAGE COMMISSION.
Among the first acts of Governor Broward was the
preparation of the law creating the "Board of Drainage
Commissioners" naming the same State officers compos-












ing the "Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund" as
the members of the Drainage Commission-This act
(Chapter 5377) was passed and approved May 27, 1905.
Under the authority of this act, Governor Broward
began actively to prepare for "Draining the Everglades."
A contract was made for two powerful dredges, August,
1905, some eight months subsequent to the inauguration
of Governor Broward, and active work immediately began
in the construction of the first two dredges employed in
the drainage of the Everglades by the Drainage Commis-
sion of the State of Florida.
In July, 1906, eleven months after the contract was let,
the dredge 'Everglades" was completed and the work
begun. Her sister dredge the "Okeechobee" was com-
pleted a few months later. Both dredges were found to be
powerful and capable of economically digging the canals
through all obstacles, the rock barriers included, thus
practically disproving the assertions of croakers and
pessimists, that the rocky barrier was an insurmountable
obstruction to the drainage of the Everglades. The logs
of these two dredges show beyond question that the cost
of the work under the practical direction of Governor
Broward, both in earth and rock cutting, was the most
economical of any dredging of its class before or since,
and fully sustained his belief that the drainage of the
Everglades was practical and could be effected at a cost
within his estimates.
Since the first dredges were started by Governor
Broward (July, 1906), the work has been continuous;
at no time has it ceased for a day, though strenuous
efforts have been made, by interested parties, to prevent
the continuance of the work, to bankrupt the fund, and
if possible, purchase its assets, lands, dredges, and canals,
at bankrupt sale.
At the time the State Dredges began work, Everglades
lands had no market value whatever, (one and a half











9


million acres were tendered the writer at 121/2 cents per
acre, but a short time before Governor Broward's in-
auguration). The agricultural value of the soil (when
drained and reclaimed) was acknowledged by all who
were capable of passing upon its fertility and productive-
ness. No one however, had faith sufficient to risk the cost
of its reclamation, though the highest estimated cost per
acre, by competent men was placed at less than four
dollars per acre, for all the necessary main and lateral
canals to perfectly reclaim five million acres of wonder-
fully fertile and productive lands-situated in a sub-
tropical climate, with abundant rainfall well distributed,
continuous sunshine, ample transportation by rail and
by sea-one of the most healthy territories in the world,
bordering the most rapidly developing region in America,
occupied by a young, vigorous, and progressive citizen-
ship, requiring only an energetic effort by such a man as
Napolean B. Broward, with his wonderful dynamic force
of character, energy and determination, to demonstrate
the practicability of the reclamation and the enormous
value of the lands when reclaimed at a cost of less than
ten per cent of their agricultural value.
At no time during the first two years of Governor
Broward's administration, until December 1907, when
the compromise of various suits was affected, were the
current funds of the "Drainage Commission" sufficient
to vigorously carry on the work. A few sales of land had
been made, and taxes from a few land owners collected,
sufficient to keep the two dredges at work, and to demon-
strate the practibility of the reclamation, and the won-
derful fertility and productiveness of the soil reclaimed
by their operations. As the dredges advanced in to the
"Glades," removing the barriers as they progressed, the
lands behind the dredges were freed of the accumulated
water and thus fitted for habitation and cultivation.


Chem 2









10


The larger land owners, corporations and individuals,
claiming millions of acres, resisted the payment of the
drainage tax fixed by the act of 1905 creating the "Drain-
age Commission" and refused to pay their just propor-
tion of the cost of reclaiming their own and other lands
of the district, though the wonderful agricultural value
of the reclaimed lands had been practically demonstrated
by the various phenomenal crops grown upon them.
By every known legal means the work was delayed and
hampered, the surveys, levels and estimates of the Board
discredited, the cost of the work exaggerated and the
worthlessness of the soil argued by powerful interests,
assisted by the press.
Governor Broward, assisted by the loyal support of his
cabinet, and the General Council of the Board, ex-Gov-
ernor W. S. Jennings, the Attorney-General, W. H. Ellis
(now a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida) con-
tinued the fight to "Drain the Everglades" and save for
the people of the State, at least a part of the vast domain
granted to them by the National Government, for "drain-
age and reclamation."
The Legislature of 1907 amended the Drainage Act of
1905 by describing the exact boundaries of the district
and levying a tax of 5 cents per acre annually, including
the year 1907, on all the lands in the district for drainage
and reclamation.
Negotiations were had with various claimants and
after numerous consultations, a compromise was made
with the litigants, which resulted in relieving the fund,
dissolving the injunctions and the deeding to the "STATE
BOARD OF EDUCATION" IN ONE CASE ALONE OF 1,072,160
ACRES OF LAND AND THE PAYMENT OF $151,063.05 IN MONEY,
as reported by the General Council, December 11, 1907,
page 146, Vol. 7 of the "Minutes of the Trustees of the
Board of Internal Improvement."











11


LAND SALES.

Subsequent to "the compromisee" Governor Broward
and ex-Governor W. S. Jennings, General Counsel of the
Board, negotiated with Western capitalists for the sale
of Everglades lands for the purpose of providing funds
to continue the work.
The first sale of any large area was made to R. P.
Davie and J. R. McKinney, June 3, 1908, for a considera-
fion of $2.00 per acre "and the establishment of an ex-
perimental cane farm for the production of sugar cane
one a large scale for the purpose of establishing sugar
mills."

THE BOLLES SALE.

On December 24, 1908, after continued investigation,
consultation and negotiation the Board sold to Richard
J. Bolles 500,000 acres of land for $1.00 per acre, and the
further consideration that Richard J. Bolles subscribe
and pay into the Drainage Fund a further sum of one
dollar per acre, making the total purchase price $500,000
for the title, and $500,000 to assist in the drainage, a
total of $1,000,000 paid in to the Drainage Fund.
No act of any former administration, except the sale
by Governor Bloxham to Hamilton Disston of 4,000,000
acres for $1,000,000 in order to release the fund from
bankruptcy, has shown greater wisdom, statesmanship,
and common sense than this act of Governor Broward
and his cabinet, nor secured greater results of such
enormous public interest.
With the assurance of ample funds to continue the
work, together with the practical demonstration of the
comparatively small sum per acre necessary to reclaim
this vast area of unusually productive land-immediately
the value of "Glade" land began to enhance-as testified
to by reputable men, large owners of these lands, in the










12

circuit court at Tallahassee;-"lands that were offered
at 50 cents per acre prior to the Bolles sale were being
readily sold at five dollars or more per acre within two
months of the date of the Bolles sale."
Richard J. Bolles is entitled to the gratitude and the
thanks of the people of the State, and particularly of
those interested in the drainage of the "Glades" for his
enterprise, courage and continued faith in the ultimate
success of their drainage, thus fitting them for habitation
and cultivation, as evidenced by his investment of more
than one million dollars in their reclamation.
On retiring from office Governor Broward had demon-
strated the practibility of draining and reclaiming the
Everglades, had compromised all suits, collected the
taxes due by the larger tax payers, had by the com-
promises released to the fund, "IN TRUST FOR THE STATE
BOARD OF EDUCATION," MORE THAN 1,932,000 ACRES OF
EVERGLADES LAND (page 543 and 549, Vol. 5, Minutes of
the Internal Improvement Fund), Paid in to the School
Fund of the State $125,000; being 25% of the sum paid
by Mr. Bolles for the 500,000 acres purchased; this being
the first instance in which the constitutional provision
requiring 25% of the sales of all public land to be paid
in to the School Fund had been complied with, which
precedent has been followed by succeeding administra-
tions.
GOVERNOR GILCHRIST'S ADMINISTRATION.

Governor Albert W. Gilchrist was inaugurated in
January, 1909. At that time the Fund was out of debt,
with $103,000.00 cash balance in bank, and a fixed in-
come from drainage taxes and land sales, with some
2,000,000 acres of land rapidly increasing in value, two
dredges at work and two more under contract and being
built at that time. The work of drainage was being
rapidly and economically accomplished.










13

With ample funds on hand from the Bolles and other
sales, made by the Broward administration, with the
drainage taxes being paid by all land owners, the trus-
tees of the fund advertised for bids to complete the work
under contract. Among others the Furst-Clark Construc-
tion Company submitted bids-offering to dig 184 miles
of'canal according to specifictaions, for eight and four-
tenths cents per cubic yard for earth excavation, and
twenty and two-tenths cents per cubic yard for rock
excavation, and to take over as cash the State's four
dredges for $145,000.00, which bid was accepted and the
contract made at 20 cents per cubic yard for rock, and
8 cents for earth, June 25, 1910. (Page 428, Vol. 8).
With an active demand for Everglades lands, at largely
enhanced prices, with all law suits settled, with no tax
resisters, with ample funds on hand and in sight, the
prospects of an early completion of the work were bright.
In order to fully provide funds with a surplus above the
contract price for the 184 miles of canals then under
contract, a further sale was made to E. C. Chambers on
January 16, 1910, to sell him 55,000' acres at $15.00 per
acre ($825,000.00). (Page 597, Vol. 8). This sale, as
testified by Governor Gilchrist "placed the fund on 'easy
street' with ample funds to complete the work, on hand
and in sight."
In the meantime, having no legal method by which to
stop the work, recognizing the enormous value of the
lands, and the comparatively small cost of reclaiming
and fitting them for habitation and cultivation, an or-
ganized system of criticism, slander, and defamation of
the project, had been inaugurated by interested parties,
citizens and newspapers of the State, and of Western
states, jealous of the largely increased tide of emmigra-
tion to all parts of Florida, the influx of settlers and
capital into Florida, criticized the methods employed,
questioned the accuracy of the surveys, of the estimate










14


of the engineers, and particularly the practicability of
the undertaking and th vle value of the soil when reclaimed;
resulting in a panic among purchasers of lands, the fail-
ure to meet payments under contracts of sale, and the
consequent failure to obtain funds to vigorously prose-
cute the work.
The enterprise became the subject of National aggita-
tion, and was denounced in the Halls of Congress,, result-
ing in the investigation by the U. S. Senate and the publi-
cation of Senate Document No. 89, August 7, 1911, "The
Everglades of Florida," being a complete history of the
swamp and overflowed lands of the State from the time
of the ceeding of Florida to the United States to date,
August, 1911.
Dealers of Florida lands outside the Everglades as
well as dealers in Everglades lands, were indicted for
using the mails to defraud, these indictments were pub.
lished throughout the Nation, particularly in those
states from which a large number of settlers, and large
amounts of capital were being drawn.
The funds of the Drainage Commissioner were
depleted, and with great difficulty were sufficient funds
provided to meet the necessary expenses of the enterprise.
However, at no time was the work suspended, owing
entirely to the determination of the Governor and 'his
cabinet to continue the work, and turn it over, a going
concern to the incoming administration.
The end of Governor Gilehrist's administration found
the work still progressing, though the force and number
of dredges had been very considerably reduced.

GOVERNOR TRAMMELLS ADMINISTRATION.

Governor Park Trammell was inaugurated in January,
1913. He found but a small cash balance on hand-less
than $25,000.00-the only revenue the drainage taxes,
with no sales for lands on account of the well organized










15


opposition to the drainage of the Everglades. However,
by careful management, by himself and his cabinet, he
kept the dredges at work and by strenuous effort suc-
ceeded in obtaining the necessary funds. He had pre-
pared and passed by the Legislature of 1913, Chapter
6456, An Act to establish the Everglades district in this
State, define its boundaries, to create a board of com-
missioners for said district and define its powers, author-
izing the board to levy taxes to borrow money
and to issue Bonds, and dispose of the same. Provided,
however, (Sec. 16) that the total amount of bonds so
issued and outstanding at any time shall not exceed six
million dollars principal, etc. Also Chapter 6458, An Act
relating to the creation, organization and maintenance
of drainage districts, etc., under which a number of drain-
age districts, outside the Everglades Drainage District,
have been established by private corporations. Also
Chapter 6457, amending the General Statutes, "Providing
for drains or canals and their maintenance by counties,
etc."
The result of the Everglades drainage work, though
still incomplete, had demonstrated the extraordinary pro-
ductiveness of the swamp and overflowed lands of the
state, and the comparatively small cost of reclamation,
had induced several counties, and a number of in-
dividuals to organize drainage districts outside the Ever-
glades District, some twelve or fifteen districts to date.
In the meantime continued criticism of the under-
taking, denial of the correctness of the surveys and esti-
mates, and of the agricultural value of the lands when
drained, lead to the appointment, April 30, 1913, of the
"Florida Everglades Engineering Commission" consist-
ing of Ishman Randolph, Chairman, Marshal 0. Leighten,
and Edmund Perkins, engineers of National repute, to
"procure and study all data, facts, information and
physical conditions affecting Lake Okeechobee, the Evey-












16


glades and all territory embraced in said drainage dis-
trict; to cause to be made such further survey as may be
necessary * cause a map to be made of the area
embraced * and shall show thereon * *
the ascertained facts and things to be done as recom-
mended in said report." (Page 8, Randolph Report).

THE RANDOLPH REPORT.

This report was made October 13, 1913, at a cost to the
Board of some $35,000.
Probably no similar report of an engineering problem
has ever been made by any board of engineers more com-
plete and comprehensive than this report by the "Florida
Engineering Commission" as published in Senate Docu-
ment No. 379, January 29, 1914.
The conclusions drawn are tersely and emphatically
stated in the second paragraph of the report, as
follows:
"OUR CONCLUSION, BASED ON OUR STUDY OF AS-
CERTAINED FACTS, IS THAT THE DRAINAGE OF THE
FLORIDA EVERGLADES IS ENTIRELY PRACTICABLE
AND CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED AT A COST WHICH THE
VALUE OF THE RECLAIMED LAND WILL JUSTIFY, THE
COST PER ACRE BEING VERY SMALL." (Page 5,
Randolph Report).

Speaking of the work accomplished by the State at
the time of the investigation by the Commission, the
report says:

"THE PRESENT CANALS WILL, AS A PART OF A
BROAD COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM, BE WORTH TO THE
STATE EVERY DOLLAR THAT THEY HAVE COST. THEY
ARE THERE TO SERVE A USEFUL PURPOSE IN THE
GREAT SCHEME OF RECLAMATION UPON WHICH THE
STATE HAS EMBARKED; A SCHEME WHICH HAS
ONLY TO BE CARRIED TO COMPLETION TO MAKE FER-










17


TILE FIELDS OF A WATERY WASTE AND A POPULOUS
LAND WHERE NOW NO MAN DWELLS." (Page 7
Randolph Report).
The Commission also testified as to the productiveness
of the soil and the sufficiency of the canals, as designed by
Governor Broward and his successors, to drain the lands
in the first instance, and their sufficiently for subsequent
drainage, as follows:
"THE VIRGIN MUCK IS A COARSELY FIBROUS SUB-
STANCE: AFTER CULTIVATION HAS TAKEN PLACE FOR
SEVERAL SEASONS IT BECOMES A FINE-GRAINED SOIL
OF ALMOST UNEXAMPLED PRODUCTIVITY. * * *
THEREFORE, THE CANALS THAT WILL BE NECESSARY
TO DRAIN THE GLADES IN THE FIRST INSTANCE WILL
BE AMPLE FOR SUBSEQUENT CONDITIONS * *
CONCERNING ALL SOIL, THE FARMER HAS MUCH TO
LEARN, BUT ESPECIALLY CONCERNING MUCK SOIL.
THIS COMMISSION IN ITS GOINGS ABOUT THE EVER-
GLADES HAS GATHERED FROM OLD RESIDENTS AND
FROM APPARENTLY REPUTABLE OBSERVERS AND
EXPERIMENTERS MORE CONTRADICTORY INFORWA-
TION ABOUT MUCK THAN THE COMMISSION'S MEM-
BERS HAVE CONFRONTED ABOUT ANY SUBJECT IN ALL
THEIR PROFESSIONAL LIVES.". (Page 42, Randolph
Report).
With the legal authority to tax the lands of the dis-
trict (that of the Trustees at the same rate as other
private and corporate owners), with the report of the
Randolph Commission, confirming the surveys, estimates
and conclusions of Governor Broward and his successors,
as to the results to be expected, the year 1914 promised
to relieve the fund of financial embarrassment and pro-
vide ample means to vigorously prosecute the work to a
successful completion.
Negotiations for the sale of sufficient bonds, secured as
provided by law, by the taxes on all the lands of the di.-









18


trict, were begun. Pending these negotiations, the Euro-
pean War began, and all efforts to dispose of the bonds
failed.
As the money market eased in 1915, further negotia-
tions were had with every prospect of satisfactory terms
being made.
The adverse criticism continued, however, National
Bureaus investigated and reported adversely on the
drainage, and particularly on the worthlessness of the
lands when drained. Chemical analyses were made of
the soil, duplicate samples being taken by representa-
tives of the State and National Chemical Departments.
The results of these analyses were concordant; however,
the conclusions drawn from them were diametrically
opposed. Theory and practice did not agree. The non-
productiveness of the soil was alleged by the Bureau of
Soils (from chemical analysis and classification), while
the productiveness of the soil was maintained by the
State authorities, (from physical demonstration and by
the crops growing on the land at the time of the survey).
The "Soil Survey of the Fort Lauderdale Area" was
published by the U. S. Bureau of Soils, July 15, 1915;
and used by the opponents of the Everglades as con-
firming their opinion of the worthlessness of the drained
muck lands. This being by no means the first instance
in which the Soil Experts of the Government have con
demned as worthless some of the most productive soils in
America; a notable instance was the condemnation of the
soils of the "Imperial Valley of California," pronounced
worthless for agricultural purposes by the U. S. authori-
ties (Circular No. 9 Bureau of Soils, 1902), and now
noted as one of the most productive regions of America,
as are the Everglades.
No man, particularly a farmer, trucker or stock man,
can visit this region, now but partly reclaimed, note the
change from a saw-grass marsh to a vast meadow of won-










19


derful natural forage crops, with many thousands of
acres of the finest grasses, numerous truck farms, with
crops of every description now growing on soils which
were covered with from one to two feet of water a short
time since; a soil equal to and resembling the best "pot-
ting mold," from two to ten feet deep averaging about six
feet deep, without recognizing their phenomenal fertility
and productiveness.
However, Governor Trammell, and his cabinet, being
satisfied from personal knowledge, practical demonstra-
,tion, and the testimony of capable and practical men of
experience, declined to yield to the opponents of the
reclamation, who, having exhausted ever legal expedient,
had resorted to slander, criticism and politics, to hamper
and delay the work.
The board of trustees failing to find a market for the
bonds, negotiated with the contractors to pay for the
work as the taxes accrued, and secure the notes of the
Trustees with bonds of the district, said bonds in case of
sale to be accounted for at not less than ninety per cent
of their par value. One large contract at not less than
par; and vigorously continued the work. At the present
time, June, 1916, there are nine powerful dredges at
work, two powerful drill boats, a fleet of supply boats
and a small army of men, actively engaged in the work.
Contracts involving 27,690,000 cubic yards of excavation,
of which practically 5% is rock and 95% earth. The
highest contract price is 8 cents per cubic yard for earth,
and 20 cents per cubic yard for rock excavation. These
contracts when completed and the dams removed will
finish the work, including the St. Lucie canal (the Con-
trol canal), from the Lake to the Atlantic.
Probably no contract has ever been let for more rea-
sonable figures, certainly the contracts let by the
National Government for similar materials are costing
much more, generally twice or three times as much as










20


the State contracts. All the work of the main canals (ex-
cepting the extreme southwestern district) is included in
these contracts, and are now properly financed, with a
healthy demand for the remaining bonds in the fund, if
it be found necessary to provide more funds.
The following is a quotation from competent authority,
Dr. Harvey W.- Wiley's report to the Secretary of Agri-
culture, 1891:
"Another important consideration in connec-
tion with the muck lands of the Okeechobee
country is found in the method contemplated
for their cultivation. These lands will be inter-
sected by numerous drainage canals, and by
means of these canals not only can the land be
cultivated by steam from engines carried on
boats in the canals -themselves (as practiced
then in Louisiana), but also the products of
the fields can be transported on the same canal,
with an economy which will render the competi-
tion of mule and horse power methods of cul-
tivation almost impossible. Competent en-
gineers have made estimates for the actual cost
of steam cultivation, on the canal system indi-
cated above, and allowing for all contingencies
of unexpected expenses, it appears reasonable to
say that, with the yield of cane which can be
secured on such lands, it will be possible to
place the cane at the doors of the factories, by
means of a system of canals used in irrigation
and cultivation, at an expense which will fall
below $2 per ton. This expense includes all the
cost of cultivation, harvesting, and transporta-
tion.
"IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO DWELL UPON THE FACT
THAT WITH CANE PRODUCED AT SUCH A COST, EVEN
THE ISLAND OF CUBA COULD NOT COMPETE WITH










21


FLORIDA IN THE PRODUCTION OF SUGAR. THERE IS
PRACTICALLY NO OTHER BODY OF LAND IN THE WORLD
WHICH PRESENTS SUCH REMARKABLE POSSIBILI-
TIES OF DEVELOPMENT AS THE MUCK LANDS BOR-
DERING THE SOUTHERN SHORES OF LAKE OKEE-
CHOBEE. WITH A DEPTH OF SOIL AVERAGING,
PERHAPS, 8 FEET, AND AN EXTENT OF NEARLY HALF
A MILLION ACRES, WITH A SURFACE ALMOST ABSO-
LUTELY LEVEL, IT AFFORDS PROMISE OF DEVELOP-
MENT WHICH REACHES BEYOND THE LIMITS OF
PROPHECY."

Were Dr. WiJey to visit the Everglades at the present
time, he would see his prophecy of twenty-five years ago,
(when the doctor and I dreaiied dreams and saw
visions), more than fulfilled. What with powerful gaso-
line tractors, disintegrators, plows and harrows today,
preparing the rich black muck soil for culture, and the
vast areas of "Maiden Cane" meadows growing spon-
taneously, (one of the most valuable grasses known
equal to many legumes as a flesh former) with canals
from Lake to Gulf, with five others complete from the
Lake to, the Atlantic (requiring only that the dams
necessary for construction be removed) with a standard
railroad direct from Lake Okeeehobee to Eastern and
other markets, with modern hotels on the shores of the
Lake with every convenience, electric lights and run-
ning water, with the Lake provided with beacons and
lights for the guidance of the navigator, with other rail-
roads seeking terminals on the Lake, and routes through
the Glades, he would realize that his most sanguine pre-
dictions were being fulfilled.
Dr. Lincoln Hully, President of the John B. Stetson
University, DeLand, Florida, on the occasion of the of-
ficial opening of the water-way from the "Gulf to the
Atlantic" through the drainage canals with Governor
Gilchrist and members of his cabinet says, April 28, 1912:










22


"Think of it! We went through the Ever-
glades in three days-from Fort Myers up the
Caloosahatchie, across Lake Okeechobee and
down the drainage canals to Fort Lauderdale.
The Everglades of the old geographies are a
myth. The genius of man has conquered them.
Every mile of the journey brought new surprises.
"The soil is the richest I have ever seen. The
most luxuriant crops are growing on it. An area
bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island to-
gether, one a vast submerged prairie, is here-
after to be a garden of paradise. Seeing is be-
lieving. Governor Jennings, Governor Broward
arid others have clone the seemingly impossible.
It is a great triumph of faith. "And if ye have
faith as a grain of mustard seed ye shall say to
this mountain be thou cast aside into the sea
and it shall be done." Faith has turned the
waters off the glades and into the sea."
Hundreds of eminent men, scientists, literary men,
farmers, stockmen, engineers, agriculturists, chemists
and technists have visited the Glades, traversed the
canals from the Atlantic to the Gulf, noted the fertile
productive soil, the numerous farms on such portions as
are now sufficiently drained; all universally testify to.
the great value of the soil, when drained and reclaimed,
and recognize the remarkably small cost of cutting the
necessary canals to remove the water, which as Governor
Broward quaintly said "runs down hill and only requires
a sufficient opening to reach sea level."
At the present time Lake Okeechobee stands at an ele-
vation of 16.5 feet, its normal lever before the canals
wre cut was 21 feet. Its shores, formerly impassable
swamps, are now being cultivated, and are yielding
phenomenal crops of all kinds, cane, corn, tropical fruits,
and particularly native pasture grasses of the best quality











23

on which are rapidly being established immense stock
farms of pure bred cattle, with a rapidly increasing, ener-
getic population of vigorous, industrious, sanguine, and
contented people.



To her late Governors William D. Bloxham, and
Napoleah B. Broward, and to the late B. E. McLin and
A. C. Croom; to Governors William S. Jennings, Albert
W, Gilchrist, and Park Trammell, together with the mem-
bers of their cabinets, W. V. Knott, W. H. Ellis, J. C.
Luning, Thos. F. West and W. A. McRae, the people of
Florida owe a debt of reverence and gratitude for their
determined and successful efforts, to secure to them, and
particularly to the SCHOOL FUND OF THE STATE, for their
children of coming generations, part of their rich heri-
tage, more than one million acres of the most valuable
soil in America-a heritage which, economically admin-
istered in the interest of the school children of the State,
will provide for Florida's children one of the largest
Public School Funds in the Union.
R. E. ROSE.
Tallahassee, June, 1916.





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