From the President
By David G. Barber
Recently, I’ve been researching Florida’s
canals despite the fact that the only part of Florida
I have been to is the panhandle. Doing so has caused me to regroup and update
our index pages. But, it has also revealed to me that the overall picture really
hasn’t been drawn. This is in a state that many of our members have spent a
great deal of time.
Ignoring the panhandle and just
considering the peninsular, the entire area is rather flat with the high point
in the center at Orlando.
Most waterway improvements in Florida
are about drainage with navigation being a secondary consideration. Navigation
was more important in the late 19th
century than it is today because roads were few. The big problem is that
rainfall can be low in some years creating drought conditions. In other years,
especially if hurricanes occur, there can be a large surplus.
Orlando, the drainage is into the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and then down the
Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee.
From that shallow lake, there is flow (and navigation) to east and west, but
more especially south to the
Gulf of Florida.
The southward flow is the shallow, but very wide “River
known as the Everglades.
Mankind’s attempts to live in and control this area have caused all sorts of
problems. In the 1960’ and 70’s, the
was straightened with seven locks and dams to promote drainage. This had a
severely negative environmental effect and a new project is underway to reverse
the central portion of the original straightening. The restoration has already
removed one of the locks and a second will follow. The river will remain
navigable, though curvy in the center section. Project completion is scheduled
East of Lake
Okeechobee, the St.
Lucie canal is navigable to the ocean. This canal now has two locks plus remains
of earlier locks. To the southeast are other canals now used only for drainage,
but there are remains of locks from earlier days. West of the lake, the
leads to the gulf with three locks.
Orlando, information is more obscure. Here, drainage is generally northward with
the St. Johns River on the east, the
in the center and the Withlacoochee
on the west. When the
reaches the planned route of the Cross
turns east and flows into the
This eastward flow was to be used by the barge canal.