Monday, July 25, 2011

Fort Lauderdale's first party boat - 1896

For more Florida history, see my history blog at:

Jane's History Nook -

By Jane Feehan

It could be said that Fort Lauderdale’s first houseboat, the Wanderer, launched the city’s reputation as a party place, especially among boaters.

The vessel, a refurbished Mississippi River packet boat with 12 bedrooms, several recreation rooms and a piano, was brought to the Stranahan New River Camp and Trading Post in 1896 by wealthy ornithologist, Charles B. Cory* (1857-1921).  Four years later, he purchased land near SW 15th Street, dredged a canal for the Wanderer and continued to host the Stranahans and their camp visitors. Among guests were former President Grover Cleveland and actor Joe Jefferson.

Partying went on for days at a time. The tradition continued when Cory transferred ownership after he lost his fortune in 1906. Title to the Wanderer was transferred to a succession of owners until it was destroyed by the hurricane of 1926.

*Cory wrote Birds of Haiti, Birds of the Bahamas, Birds of the West Indies – and many more. He was also a golfer, competing in the 1904 Olympics. After he lost his fortune, he took a salaried position as curator of zoology for the Field Museum in Chicago where he remained for the rest of his life.
  1.Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale, Venice of America. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
  2. Miami News, Jan. 3, 1925, p. 5.
  4. McIver, Stuart. Glimpses of South Florida History. Miami: Florida Flair Books, 1988.

For today's party boats, see

Tags: New River history, Fort Lauderdale history, Charles. B. Cory, Joe Jefferson, New River


Erich Volkstorf said...

A slight correction is needed here. Joe Jefferson died in 1905, so I doubt Cory would have transfered ownership in 1906 to a dead man. As well Jefferson did not appear in The Idol Dancer(1920) and did not appear in any films of DW Griffith who directed his first film in 1908.


Jane Feehan said...

I stand corrected. Thank you.Idol Dancer was filmed in Fort Lauderdale in 1919, long after Jefferson's demise. The only other movie DW Griffith started to film here was White Rose, but he stopped production, seeking a more natural setting. Canal walls were being constructed, diminishing the wild look he liked so much for Idol Dancer.