Florida East Coast
( Originally Published 1900 )
All along the Atlantic shore of Florida south of St. Augustine are popular winter resorts, their broad and attractive beaches, fine climate and prolific tropical vegetation being among the charms that bring visitors. Ormond is between the ocean front and the pleasant Halifax River, its picturesque tributary, the Tomoka, being a favorite resort for picnic par-ties. A few miles south on the Halifax River is Daytona, known as the " Fountain City," and having its suburb, " the City Beautiful," on the opposite bank. New Smyrna, settled by Minorcan indigo planters in the eighteenth century, is on the northern arm of Indian River. Here are found some of the ancient Indian shell mounds that are frequent in Florida, and also the orange groves that make this region famous. Inland about thirty miles are a group of pretty lakes, and in the pines at Lake Helen is located the " Southern Cassadaga," or Spiritualists' Assembly. For more than a hundred and fifty miles the noted Indian River stretches down the coast of Florida. It is a long and narrow lagoon, parallel with the ocean, and is part of the series of lagoons found on the eastern coast almost continuously for more than three hundred miles from St. Augustine south to Biscayne Bay, and varying in width from about fifty yards to six or more miles. They are shallow waters, rarely over twelve feet deep, and are entered by very shallow inlets from the sea. The Indian River shores, stretching down to Jupiter Inlet, are lined with luxuriant vegetation, and the water is at times highly phosphorescent. Upon the western shore are most of the celebrated Indian River orange groves whose product is so highly prized. At Titusville, the head of navigation, where there are about a thousand people, the river is about, at its widest part, six miles. Twenty miles below, at Rockledge, it narrows to about a mile in width, washing against the perpendicular sides of a continuous enclosing ledge of coquina rock, with pleasant overhanging trees. Here comes in, around an island, its eastern arm, the Banana River, and to the many orange groves are added plantations of the luscious pineapple. Various limpid streams flow out from the everglade region at the westward, and Fort Pierce is the trading station for that district, to which the remnant of the Seminoles come to exchange alligator hides, bird plumage and snake skins for various sup-plies, not forgetting " fire-water." Below this is the wide estuary of St. Lucie River and the Jupiter River, with the lighthouse on the ocean's edge at Jupiter Inlet, the mouth of Indian River.
Seventeen miles below this Inlet is Palm Beach, a noted resort, situated upon the narrow strip of land between the long and narrow lagoon of Lake Worth and the Atlantic Ocean. Here are the vast Hotel Royal Poinciana and the Palm Beach Inn, with their cocoanut groves, which also fringe for miles the pleasant shores of Lake Worth. Prolific vegetation and every charm that can add to this American Riviera bring a crowded winter population. The Poinciana is a tree bearing gorgeous flowers, and the two magnificent hotels, surrounded by an extensive tropical paradise, are connected by a wide avenue of palms a half-mile long, one house facing the lake and the other the ocean. There is not a horse in the settlement, and only one mule, whose duty is to haul a light summer car between the houses. The vehicles of Palm Beach are said to be confined to "bicycles, wheel-chairs and jinrickshas." Off to the westward the distant horizon is bounded by the mysterious region of the everglades. Far down the coast the railway terminates at Miami, the southern-most railway station in the United States, a little town on Miami River, where it enters the broad expanse of Biscayne Bay, which is separated from the Atlantic by the first of the long chain of Florida keys. Here are many fruit and vegetable plantations, and the town, which is a railway terminal and steamship port for lines to Nassau, Key West and Havana, is growing. Nassau is but one hundred and seventy-five miles distant in the Bahamas, off the Southern Florida coast, and has become a favorite American winter tourist resort.