Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Florida History: East meets west with Tamiami Trail - 1928

By Jane Feehan

The Tamiami Trail, linking Tampa and Miami, opened to great fanfare – 25 aerial bombs, an aerial marriage, live music and speechmaking - on April 25, 1928. It marked the completion of work begun in 1915 that was interrupted by a World War and funding shortages.

In 1922, Lee County ran out of money to complete its portion of the road. Advertising mogul Barron Gift Collier stepped up to the plate with a pledge to pay the shortfall if the state would carve out a new jurisdiction and name it Collier County. The state complied; work on the Trail continued. (Most know Collier today for its posh county seat, Naples.)

Completion of the east-west connection between Fort Myers and Miami Beach was nudged along by Miamian Capt. J.F. Jaudon who conceived the idea of a trail in 1915. A large holder of land in the Everglades and Miami who stood to benefit by the project, Jaudon organized a group of businessmen from West Florida in 1923 who rode in Model T Fords across the Everglades guided by two Seminoles. The “Trail Blazers,” as the group dressed in Safari khakis became known, dramatized the need to finish the Trail to Miami. Five and a half years after the Model T trek, the road connected Fort Myers and Miami Beach.

Dynamite was used for every foot of the way through the Everglades. The highest point on the road, which today serves as the northern border of Everglades National Park, is 12 feet above sea level. Tamiami Trail received U.S Highway designations in 1926. Portions are U.S. 90 , U.S. 27, U.S. 41 (hidden designations).The southeast part of the Trail extends through Coral Gables, downtown Miami, over S.W. Eighth Street (Calle Ocho), across the Venetian Causeway and to Miami Beach. It ends at Brickell Key Drive.

Unfortunately, the scenic road interrupted the flow of water through the Everglades, the “River of Grass,” compromising wild life and forever changing its ecosystem. Today, proposed reclamation initiatives include digging channels through parts of the Trail and building bridges to ease the flow of water. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.
Miami News, April 30, 1926
Miami News, April 25, 1928
Miami News, June 8, 1958
Douglas, Marjorie Stoneman. The Everglades, River of Grass. Miami: Banyan Books (1947). 

Tags: Florida history, Florida roadways, Tamiami Trail, U.S. 90, U.S. 27, U.S 41, Collier County, Everglades National Park, film researcher

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