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Southeast and Southwest Coasts

Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers


The following passages are from an interesting article which appeared in a recent number of the "Semi-Tropical Magazine," written by M. A. Williams, a civil engineer of Jacksonville:

"The climate upon this coast is exceedingly pleasant and healthy, being fanned almost continually by the sea-breezes, and the land is are adapted to general cultivation, but particularly to semi-tropical fruits. The orange grows there to great perfection. These inland waters are more properly speaking sounds rather than rivers, and upon their borders there are localities of great beauty. The waters abound in the finest variety of fish. Indeed, the fisheries at particular places on these waters can not be excelled as to quantity, quality, and variety of the fish, and the same can be said of Charlotte Harbor, Sarasota, and other points upon the Gulf. So far a portion only of these fisheries have been used, chiefly for the West India market, but, with population and increased facilities for shipment, they must become of great value at no distant day.

"The coral formation of the peninsula crops out upon the surface in the neighborhood of Biscayne Bay, and, although the land is exceedingly rocky, yet it is productive and well adapted to the cultivation of tropical fruits. Upon the islands lying off the southeast coast of Florida—Elliot's Key Largo, and the islands farther south—is where the pineapples for the United States are produced. There were more than one hundred thousand pineapples produced upon Key Largo the present year. This fruit produced upon these islands is said to be of better flavor and of superior quality to that produced upon the Bahamas, and sells for a much better price in the New York market. All other tropical fruits grow here to perfection. The surface of the lands is rocky almost beyond description. In surveying upon them, I had frequently to pile tip rocks around my Jacob's staff to make it stand upright. In fact, the entire cultivation is done with the hands and the use of a wooden stick; a common hoe or plow can not be used. The woods growing upon these islands differ from those of any other portion of the State; they are mostly exceedingly hard, heavy, and when dressed very beautiful.

"The Caloosahatchie and Pease Creek, upon the Gulf coast, are large and beautiful rivers, and have upon their borders a very large amount of excellent land; and upon these waters the cocoanut, banana, pineapple, guava, and other tender tropical fruits grow to perfection. It is also well adapted to the culture of sugar-cane. The Caloosahatchie River, from its entrance into Charlotte Harbor for forty miles up, is more than a mile wide; it then narrows into a deep channel with precipitous banks, and is from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet wide. It so continues to the falls at Fort Thompson. All the streams that flow from the Everglades, both on the Atlantic and Gulf, have falls, thus proving the practicability of draining this immense area of submerged lands. In my judgment the Caloosahatchie is the best tropical region of this State; indeed, it would be hard to excel it for beauty of location and adaptation of soil for tropical fruit-culture anywhere. Besides, it commands a large area of country south of it, embracing the best cattle-range in the State. The propriety of connecting this with the Okeebobee Lake and the Kissimmee River by canal, thus giving an inland navigation for several hundred miles in the center of the peninsula, is a matter that has been ably stated by other persons.

"The country around Forts Meade and Bartow, upon the head-waters of Pease Creek, is in many respects one of the most desirable portions of Florida. It is a region of clear, open-water lakes, with beautiful running streams of limpid water. The land is generally first-rate, pine, with clay subsoil, and is very productive. This is an exceedingly healthy region, and is almost entirely free from mosquitoes The lands on the head-waters of the Alafia are similar in all respects to those just mentioned."

"There are good lands upon the Manatee River and Sarasota Bay, and in other portions of Manatee County, with locations of great beauty and value. Previous to the war the largest sugar-planting interest in Florida was upon the Manatee River.

Excerpt from "An Ocean Voyage in Winter" Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers, 1882.


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