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Early Tours on the Miami River PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul S. George, Special to the BT   
June 2017

A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami

TPix_Picture_Story_6-17_1963-032-28he Miami River has assumed a central role in the history of Miami. As far back as 3000 years ago, Tequesta Indians lived along both banks of the stream. Even though the settlement’s population remained minuscule until the end of the 19th century, its heart remained the river.

With the entry of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway, the river played an even larger role in shaping the destiny of the fledgling city.

One of its offerings by the early 1900s was as a venue for tours, and curious visitors plied its shallow waters in vessels like the Sallie and the Lady Lou for a glimpse of the area’s subtropical ambiance. As seen here, a presumed tour boat navigates the waters of the north bank of the river in the vicinity of today’s NW 27th Avenue.

In that area, visitors were treated to the exchange of goods and cash at an Indian trading post; a walk through Richardson’s Grove, also known as the Musa (said to be a Native American term for banana) Isle Fruit Farm; and the short-lived Cardale Resort, which featured a skating rink and dance floor in a large Quonset-hut-shaped building.

Nearby stood its famous Cardale Tower, offering a spectacular view of the Everglades, whose eastern edge was just a mile away; peering in the other direction, one could see the Royal Palm Hotel, Flagler’s lavish hostelry near the confluence of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay.

Beyond the Cardale complex were the rapids of the Miami River and the falls, a cascade of water tumbling down from the edge of the Everglades into a recessed area marking the beginning of the north fork of the stream.

But Miami’s history is written in brief paragraphs, and the area under observation changed dramatically with the completion of the Miami Canal, an Everglades drainage ditch extending north to Lake Okeechobee, in 1913. The fruit grove and resort gave way to the Musa Isle Indian Village, while the north bank became a shell of its former self, displaced by the new canal lying just north of it, which caused a severe constriction in its water flow and prompted the disappearance of both the rapids and the falls.

 

Paul George is historian at HistoryMiami. To order a copy of this photo, please contact HistoryMiami archives manager Dawn Hugh at 305-375-1623, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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