Roads Through the Everglades

The Building of the Ingraham Highway, the Tamiami Trail and Conners Highway, 1914–1931

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About the Book

In 1915, the road system in south Florida had changed little since before the Civil War. Travelling from Miami to Ft. Myers meant going through Orlando, 250 miles north of Miami. Within 15 years, three highways were dredged and blasted through the Everglades: Ingraham Highway from Homestead, 25 miles south of Miami, to Flamingo on the tip of the peninsula; Tamiami Trail from Miami to Tampa; and Conners Highway from West Palm Beach to Okeechobee City.
In 1916, Florida’s road commission spent $967. In 1928 it spent $6.8 million. Tamiami Trail, originally projected to cost $500,000, eventually required $11 million. These roads were made possible by the 1920s Florida land boom, the advent of gasoline and diesel-powered equipment to replace animal and steam-powered implements, and the creation of a highway funding system based on fuel taxes. This book tells the story of the finance and technology of the first modern highways in the South.

About the Author(s)

Bruce D. Epperson is a retired transportation planner and attorney who has published technical works on urban transportation planning (including bicycle use) for the Federal Highway Administration, the Transportation Research Board and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He lives in Hollywood, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Bruce D. Epperson
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 284
Bibliographic Info: 57 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6479-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2502-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction: Other People’s Money 1

Part I: The Ingraham Highway

1. “Weariness is no name for the suffering I underwent” 13

2. “Roads should be built so the land can be shown” 28

3. A Habit of Asking Favors, Leniency, etc. 44

4. “This you failed to do” 60

5. “A rather superficial excuse” 74

Part II: The Tamiami Trail

6. Not Such a Terrific Job 87

7. The Only Dry Ground for Twenty Miles 104

8. Careful, There’s a Little Shine on That Bottle 120

9. “Innumerable complications” 133

10. “All was sweet and everything was sitting pretty” 148

11. When Do We Cross? 166

12. As for Business, There Hasn’t Been Any 182

13. A Pullman Car Named “Convict Labor” 197

Part III: Conners Highway

14. Don’t Call Me Fingy 211

15. “Plenty of grease, gumption and gasoline” 223

Chapter Notes 235

Resources and Bibliography 262

Index 269

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Illustrations wonderfully convey the technical challenges associated with these roadbuilding projects in the state’s swampy terrain…Epperson provides a window into the nature of Florida’s economy and psyche in the early 20th century…solid research”—Florida Historical Quarterly
• “Epperson provides an extraordinary detailed account of the funding and actual construction of these three roadways. His research is voluminous and thorough…a great resource for anyone interested in the remarkable engineering achievements of these three roads which profoundly reshaped Florida’s River of Grass”—H-Net Reviews