Developer William J. “Fingey” Conners built the first road across the state of Florida, now
known as Route 80 (as far as Twenty Mile Bend) and U. S. 98/441. Conners and his wife had visited Palm Beach from Buffalo, New York, in 1917 on his path toward political prominence. After visiting the Everglades, he bought 4,000 acres east of Canal Point and a nearby farm, but needed a road to reach it. At the time, the only route to Lake Okeechobee was by boat on recently built canals. An automobile could, however, reach Twenty Mile Bend, about half the journey. After quick approval from the State Legislature, construction began with dredges and a temporary railroad installed on the roadbed. Conners installed a paved road the rest of the way, through Canal Point to Okeechobee City, 19 miles along the muck of the Palm Beach Canal and 33 miles along the lake. The Conners Toll Highway was dedicated in 1924 at a final cost of $1.8 million. Although the toll was only 1.5 cents per mile, the average toll income has been estimated as $1,000 to $2,000 per day. After Conners’ death in 1929, the State of Florida bought the road and abolished the toll.