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Reaching Out: The Miami Connection

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Geore W. Lainhart, co-founder
of Lainhart and Potter Lumber
Company in 1893. Courtesy

HSPBC.

 

In 1889 the U. S. Government hired George Washington Lainhart to lead a crew in blazing a primitive road from Palm Beach to Miami, fighting their way through jungle covered with mosquito netting and sometimes wading in swamp water up to their necks. Three years later, Dade County partially followed Lainhart’s route when they had a path surveyed from Juno, the county seat, to Lemon City on Biscayne Bay. Officials eliminated the northern 26 miles, as a boat line covered transportation on Lake Worth, and authorized the first road to be built— an eight-foot wide trail to be cleared—from Lantana to Lemon City, near Miami. Bridges were constructed over several streams, and a ferry was added at New River, in present Ft. Lauderdale. Later the road would provide a base for Dixie Highway.

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First Dade County courthouse located at Juno
(in today's Palm Beach County). Courtesy

HSPBC.

Tropical Real Estate Exchange won the bid to build the 66-mile road at $24.50 per mile. Guy Metcalf, who owned Tropical Real Estate Exchange, wore many hats. He had been publishing The Indian River News in Melbourne since 1887 and had recently brought the paper to Juno, renaming it The Tropical Sun. It was then the only newspaper from Titusville to Key West.

Metcalf had also established the Juno Post Office, and in 1892 took over the contract for mail delivery. Passengers, freight, and mail could all reach Lantana—and points between—from the Juno dock on William Moore’s steamer, Hypoluxo. The barefoot mailmen, no longer needed, made their last delivery on January 22, 1893.

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Guy Metcalf, owner and editor
of The Tropical Sun newspaper.

Courtesy HSPBC.

After Metcalf completed the county road from Lantana to Lemon City, he provided a mode of travel for it, the Bay Biscayne Stage Line, or “Palmetto” stage. Three times a week, mule-driven buckboard wagons left from depots at Lantana and Lemon City and met at New River in the evening. The next day they exchanged passengers and returned home, the wagons avoided the ferry. The round trip cost $16, or $18 including overnight “accommodations” at New River. Metcalf provided a tent camp for up to 20 guests and hired his cousin, Frank Stranahan of Melbourne to run the camp and the ferry. Although passengers described the 3 miles-per-hour journey in the most unpleasant terms, for the first time, it was possible to access the Miami area from Lake Worth on dry land.

 

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