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East Coast Railway

Official Directory of the City of Miami and Nearby Towns


The New York packer, which circulates all over the country, contained the following articles in its last number:

"Even those who were well acquainted with every section of the State ten years age would be lost today if asked to name the leading fruit and vegetable shipping points. These have sprung on so rapidly since 1900 as to make all previous records of little value, and in almost every instance these shipping stations are growing rapidly.

"Much of the credit for the rapid development during the past three years belongs to the Florida East Coast Railway, one of the most wonderful pieces of engineering in the country. Starting at Jacksonville, this system was built up from a narrow gauge line operated between Jacksonville and St Augustine and Toccoi on the St. Johns river. This was in the old days when it cost a dollar a box to freight oranges from the Indian river country to Jacksonville. The famous Dummit orange grove on Indian river was in its prime in those days and one of the main items of cost of the fruit was the freight to Jacksonville. At that point it brought $4 to $5 a box.

"The Florida East Coast Railway was a creation of the oil magnate, H. M. Flagler. In the face of positive loss against technical advice he drew a line along, the East coast of the State, reaching to the Keys along the southern extremity of the State and thence to Key West. The East Coast Railway of today is the result—and the work is but partly completed. A glance at the map shows how far south this great system has been pushed, with steamship lines to Key West and Havana, also to Nassau, New Providence, in the Bahamas. The main line is 366 miles long, with several cross lines leading to the St. Johns river section but a few miles to the west at many points along the line.

"Through the third vice president of the system, J. E. Ingraham, of St. Augustine, the Flagler campaign has been pushed on permanent lines. The nerviest experts were employed to determine which varieties of vegetables were best adapted to certain sections. Then followed tests of all kinds, back of which stood the East Coast road at every turn. As a result, Miami and Hastings today are of equal prominence to Kalamazoo and Rocky Ford, Presque Isle or Greeley. It has literally taken millions to bring this about, but the investment is already showing results. Towns and cities have been built on systematic lines and the whole scheme as it is now unfolding is the greatest tribute to the man Flagler that could be conceived of. Carnegie's fame pales by the side of this man's whose whole bent has been to take up what was literally a wilderness and convert it into a producing section unequaled in ally part of America.

"Where the Flagler system has led the way the Seaboard Air Line and the Atlantic Costal Line have proven close seconds. These lines are doing for west and central Florida what the Florida East Coast Railway is doing on the eastern coast. Their work had less of the pioneering, for the roads had been built for years. It is, however, in the way of developing trucking and fruit raising that these lines have made worthy records. Scores of small shipping points barely existing have been brought back to a new life, giving hundreds of truckers all opportunity to gain a competency. Taking a "run down" section as well as one in which were hundreds of orange groves wiped out by the great freeze the lines have poured money into experiments along their lines, finally discovering a solution of problems which seemed unsolvable.

"As conditions settle and the various roads get the fruit and trucking business on a permanent basis rates will necessarily go to a basis fair to all.

"Dade county today is the result of overcoming obstacles. The map shows it as one vast swamp, the eastern and southern limit of the Everglades. And yet along the East Coast line there are a dozen towns well known to the trade all over the country. Only five years ago all were unknown save one or two in a small way. Dade is the 'tomato' county of the United Sates. Wherever one goes he sees tomatoes with a patch here and there of egg plants and truck. Plants have been set and a great season is before the growers."

Excerpt from "The New Florida" The Official Directory of the City of Miami and Surrounding Towns, 1904.


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