Transportation in Ancient Times
When the Spaniards arrived in modern-day Florida in the 16th century, they found a land of forest and swamp. The southern half of the state was largely inaccessible by land, and for more than 300 years European settlements were limited to northern outposts such as St. Augustine and Pensacola, though Indian communities populated much of the rest of the state. Canoes and other paddleboats were the primary means of navigating the peninsula’s myriad waterways until well into the 19th century, when the introduction of the steamship offered an alternative. The first such steamship, named The Florida, began navigating the waters of the St. John’s River in 1835, traveling as far south as the shores of Lake Monroe, near modern-day Sanford. Even then, however, hand-powered boats and rafts remained the primary means of transportation for those in the swampy territory. It was not until the rise of two Florida icons – Henry Plant and Henry Flagler – that something of a transportation revolution began in Florida. This revolution was driven by industrialization and, more specifically, the tourism industry that was to become the state’s calling card into the 20th century and beyond.