Thursday, June 16, 2011

Florida History: Of tour boats and South Florida waterways

Waterway sightseeing boats

For more about Intracoastal history, see:

By Jane Feehan

It’s hard to miss the iconic tour boat Jungle Queen berthed at Bahia Mar when driving the length of Fort Lauderdale beach. If it’s not there, the bright neon Jungle Queen sign above the ticket center grabs attention. Many who visit or live in the area have taken the cruise up the New River through downtown to an island in the river’s south fork but few know about other Fort Lauderdale tour boats that entertained sightseers throughout the years.

The Jungle Queen began touring in 1935; it wasn't the first. The Abeona, docked at the Andrews Avenue Bridge began excursions in 1933 and continued until the mid 1960s. Between the 1930s and 1950s, about 20 sightseeing boats operated on the waterways, offering food, entertainment and bits of history about the area.

In more recent times, the three-decked, sternwheeler Paddlewheel Queen, built in Mississippi, docked off Oakland Park Boulevard. It operated off and on until a few years ago. Hidden Harbor in Pompano housed the Showboat, which cruised south to Dania Beach. And once operating off Singer Island near the Palm Beaches, the Island Queen now tours Miami waterways.
Palm Beach Post, Sept. 21, 1984, p. 78.
Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale: The Venice of America. Charleston: Arcadia (2004).

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, South Florida sightseeing boats, waterway cruises, Fort Lauderdale waterways

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