Traces the long standing effort to build a canal across Florida
"Offers timeless lessons about pork-barrel politics and the power of citizen-environmentalism. Most important, it reminds us that today’s economic coup may well be tomorrow's environmental crisis."Cynthia Barnett, author of Mirage
"Ties the exploitation of the Ocklawaha to Florida history across nearly two centuries. Moreover, they bring to life the personalities of canal supporters and detractors, including such dynamic individuals as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Claude Pepper, and Marjorie Harris Carr."Frederick Rowe Davis, author of The Man Who Saved Sea Turtles
For centuries, men dreamed of cutting a canal across the Florida peninsula, despite the enormous technological and financial challenges of doing so. Heedless of environmental concerns, groups of water transportation advocates consistently lobbied the federal government to connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, a project intended to place Florida at the very center of American commerce and prosperity.
Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, Steven Noll and David Tegeder trace the twists and turns of the project through the years. The story of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, crucial to twentieth-century Florida history, is complex, featuring competing interests amidst the changing political landscape of modern Florida. Ditch of Dreams reveals much about the clashing visions of progress, economic growth, and environmental preservation in the fragile ecosystem of Florida, while exploring the tangled web of politics, influence, and power in the Sunshine State.
The history of the canal is not just a story of Florida’s past, but a compelling lesson for its future.
About the Author
Steven Noll, master lecturer in history at the University of Florida, is the author of Feeble-Minded in Our Midst and editor of Mental Retardation in America. David Tegeder is professor of history and chairperson of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Santa Fe College.
Table of Contents
1 Surveys and Steamboats 11
2 Boom or Boondoggle? 53
3 The Dream Deferred 100
4 Groundbreaking, Breaking Ground 142
5 New Visions, New Strategies 178
6 Floating Logs, Dying Trees, and Clogging Weeds 210
7 Death of a Dream 268
Epilogue: From Canal to Greenway 315
Appendix: Guide to Manuscript Collections by Location 331