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Before rail lines, the easiest way on travel into the interior of Florida Peninsula was by water. Steamships plied the navigable waters of Central Florida transporting people and goods. Although the St. John's River from Jacksonville to Sanford was the main transportation artery, boats also plied other Central Florida lakes, rivers and streams. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries canals were dredged to link lakes and streams, creating beautiful chains of lakes such as those found in Winter Park and Maitland. Many times canals and channels simply widened already existing connections between bodies of water.

…"but Bill is Capt. of the 'Colonist' a very nice steamer here, so I shall live here altogether, he has to live on the boat almost all the time, he comes up for an hour or two every evening and sometimes can stall all night, but has to be down on the boat by six a.m…" - Excerpt from a letter, Helen Warner to her Mother, dated Saturday 1886, The Tropical Hotel, Kissimmee, Florida.

"December 31, 1895. I sailed from Jacksonville on steamer City of Jacksonville Due to start at 3.30 PM but delayed until 4PM - It was a delightful ride up the St. John's River. The sun setting in the west let fall the most beautiful reflection on the littlerippling mirror like [waves?] it was splendid and as the sun set in the west the large red full moon rose in the east…went out in the cabin to join others to watch the ever varying beaties as we passed them.  + The distance from Jacksonville to Sanford by rail is 125 miles.  by boat it must [ver?] near 200 miles you sometimes sail a mile around a loop to see only about 100 yds from where your boat passed thus the [drawing of winding river] st John winds and it varies from several miles in width to say 75 yds.  And but a little more than room for the boat to make the turn the limbs of trees with hanging moss scraping side of boat."  - Excerpt from Travel Diary, December 31, 1895 - January 2, 1895.

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