Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Florida History: Intracoastal Waterway not always a free ride

Intracoastal at Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Visit for more Florida history

Today, boaters cruise the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway* in Florida for free but it wasn’t always that way. It was a privately owned, dredged, and operated canal – the East Coast Canal - for a few decades after 1881. By the 1920s, at six points along the way (including one south of Dania in Broward County), chains were pulled taut beneath the surface of the water to obstruct passage until a toll was paid.  Tolls from three to 10 cents were assessed based on the type of vessel and, if commercial, by a percentage of freight.

Congress authorized the US Army Corps of Engineers to study the feasibility of federal ownership in 1920.  Resultant to that and to efforts of Fort Lauderdale’s Commodore A.H. Brook, the Florida Inland Navigation District was created in 1928. Brook, on the district’s first board of directors, successfully campaigned to raise money through bonds to purchase the canal from its private owners. By 1929, the federal government was given title to the waterway and tolls were abolished. The 17th Street Causeway Bridge was once named for Commodore Brook. Thanks, Commodore …                                                                                        

Sources: For an excellent, comprehensive history of Florida’s East Coast Canal see: A History of Florida’s East Coast Canal: The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Miami by William G. Crawford, Jr  (1997). The article is posted at: courtesy of   the Broward County Historical Commission. See also the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society. 

* For ways to cruise the Intracoastal today, see:

Tags: Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Florida history, Fort Lauderdale history, East Coast Canal, Commodore Brook, Broward County history, history of Florida, Florida in the early 1900s


Mike Miller said...

Well, you taught me something new again.

Jane Feehan said...