Swampland for Sale
Excerpts from the original Everglade Magazine, a real estate catalogue published in the early 1900s out of Chicago
The climate and productiveness of the Everglades are not surpassed in the world, presenting conditions both winter and summer in which the maximum results of labor are procured by the minimum effort.
The water in the Glades is always pure and drinkable. Nowhere is it stagnant; nowhere does it seem to be wholly at rest. It seems to move in one mass from the northeast to the southwest.
The climate of the Glades is most mild and equable. The vegetation shows by the habits of growth that frost is unknown. Only moderately high temperature prevails in summer and this is much modified by prevailing breezes.
The death rate in Florida is the lowest in the Union--only 6 per 1,000. More than 70 men in State now living over 100 years old.
The first actual work toward the permanent drainage and reclamation of the Everglades of Florida was begun under the personal direction of Governor Napolean B. Broward.
The problem of drainage is one of the simplest. It consists merely in lowering the level of Lake Okeechobee, which has for years been overflowing its shores and flooding the great area to the south of it.
Two of the dredges are working from the Miami River. The other is on the west side of the lake in the Caloosahatchee River.
There are 3,000,000 acres of land free of trees and shrubs, with a covering of grass only, costing nothing to clear it and make it ready for cultivation. A small portion of this area, when reclaimed by Hamilton Disston twenty years ago, produced 63 tons of cane to the acre yielding 12,600 pounds. It would be no surprise to those interested to see the sugar supply for this country produced in the course of a few years in the Everglades of Florida.
* Because the soil is famously fertile.
* Because sunstrokes and heat prostrations have never been known.
* Because Dade County roads are among the finest in the country, making carriage or auto rides indeed a pleasure.
* Because the county schools rank foremost in the State.
* Because you should be able to provide against disaster in either youth or old age if you own a home here.
* Because Florida's death rate is the lowest in the United States.
* Because you can be independent, and comparatively few are in this station today.
* Because we will help you and advise you and lend our expert agriculturalist to you for information, and, in fact, stand back of you in the start with such knowledge as is necessary to tide you over the mistakes of those who do not know this land.
Napoleon Bonaparte Broward is perhaps the most romantic character of our country. As a lad he was reared among lowly surroundings in the State of Florida. He was the most fearless of men, and at a very early period took to the sea. In 1903, this farmer, sailor, wrecker, filibuster and patriot became imbued with the idea of saving millions for his Florida and furnishing thousands with independent homes. To carry out his scheme, it was necessary for him to become governor. His scheme was the draining of the Everglades. Governor Broward knew that to put water on the desert lands of the West cost $25 an acre. He made his estimates and swore by them that to take the water off the black, fertile fields of the Everglades would cost less than a dollar an acre. Now, the mighty dredges are reclaiming this incalculably rich land at the rate of thousands of acres a month.
This book proves that the Everglades need no great clearing expense. Experts of both State and Federal governments agree that the Everglades will prove to be the richest of lands when the drainage work is completed.
If you can arrange to visit our property you will be pleased at what you see...you will learn at a glance that this country has no equal in America. We cannot describe the region we ask you to visit; nothing but actual examination will convey its beauties to you. We want you to make the journey, and hope that you will do this before you buy. If, however, you cannot do this now, our guarantee permits you to buy a farm now and make your examination at any time within sixty days, if you so desire.
We reserve the right to advance the prices of our lands at any time and without notice.
We consider it our duty to tell all who are interested in the Everglades, our impressions regarding them. Notwithstanding the fact that we had read in papers many times that the soil was rich black muck, we never imagined that the soil of the Everglades was of such a quality as we found it to be. By nationality we are Dutchmen and we know something about soils. Holland produces the finest fruits and vegetables. The productivity of the Holland soil is rich, but the productivity of the Everglade soil will beat it, on account of the climate, which is almost perfect. We might add that the present values of land in Holland, where we formerly lived, is $2,000 an acre and it is almost impossible to buy any even at this price. This will give some indication of what future values will be in the Everglades.
Starting from the front entrance, one sees vegetables enough to supply the State of Florida, it seems! And such beautiful specimens -- with all the desired freshness and crispness upon them. One must keep in mind that this is a mid-winter display, although the thermometer shows summer heat. However, it isn't summer everywhere, and these vegetables are rare, and exceedingly tempting to visitors. Among the varieties exhibited can be seen potatoes (both Irish and sweet), beets, onions, cabbages, beans, tomatoes, squash, kale, lettuce, parsley, cauliflower, green corn, chaote, celery, parsnips, turnips, peppers, radishes, egg-plants, cucumbers -- and if anything else can be thought of, it is there, too. Not only are the displays good, but their arrangement is artistic. Sugar cane as long as fishing poles can be seen, showing the possibilities of the reclaimed Everglades land.
While I am not directly engaged in this gigantic project [Everglades reclamation], I am actuated by a feeling of pride, in which every Floridian doubtless shares in a work, the magnitude of which is in keeping with the progressive spirit of our people and will reflect credit upon the State as a whole and upon its efficient Internal Improvement Board, who, under the able supervision of a determined leader, ex-Governor Napoleon B. Broward, had taken the initiative in this monumental undertaking, which we are inspired with most encouraging hopes of success. It is a relief to obtain unbiased information regarding this interesting subject, which has captivated the attention of thousands of peo-ple who never associated the State of Florida with anything as important as the reclamation of the famous Everglades.
Group letter of 1910 -- We, the undersigned, after a thorough investigation of the proposition of the Everglade Land Sales Company, believe it to be all it has been represented in the literature of said Company. Further, we believe it to be the best proposition in the 'Glades. The various crops -- cane, millet, sweet grass, peppers, etc., and the remarkable growth they have attained -- convince us of the great fertility of the soil. We have also seen splendid citrus groves, of all ages, thriving on the muck soil. Of the ease of drainage, there can be no doubt. The fall, as shown by the dams, is conclusive on this point, as are the many acres of temporarily drained land. Considering the splendid climate -- and we have been comfortable here in mid-summer -- the soil, the transportation facilities, we believe that an investment with said Company will be sound, and extremely profitable.
In reply to your inquiry concerning Everglade lands and the feasibility of draining same, beg leave to state that in my opinion there is no question but what the Everglades can and will be drained. The Everglades are from eight to twenty-three feet higher than the level of the sea, increasing in elevation as you approach the center. The only thing that is required to make the drainage of the Everglades a success is sufficient ditches to carry the water off. With scientific cultivation there is no reason why the lands in the Everglades cannot be made as profit-able as any lands in the irrigated valleys of the West.
The canals running through this land can serve a double purpose, supplying water in the dry season and draining the land in wet season and Lake Okeechobee will prove a perpetual reservoir in which water will never be lacking.
by John C. Gifford, 1911
So many plants will grow in the Everglades when drainage is complete that a book would have to be written to cover the subject and do it justice. The growing of things is the purpose of all reclamation, and upon this alone depends the future value of the land. This Everglade land when drained, owing to its favorable location, will produce a greater variety of crops than any other land in the United States of America. Many things have been successfully grown on the edge of the Everglades already, but think of the hundreds of useful plants in other parts of the world which have yet to be introduced and tested! Everglade drainage is a question only in the minds of doubting Thomases, who are prejudiced, ignorant or born knockers who belittle every project in which they have no hand and out of which they can make no rake-off.
We need not go to Europe for examples of successful works of a similar nature [drainage]. The Dutch in fact would smile at such a project. They are making farm lands out of such places as Biscayne Bay. They reclaim places below the level of the sea. They pump the water out. Look over the great irrigation projects of our West, or better still the banked lands of the Mississippi Valley where huge and costly levees hold our mightiest river in check. The overflow of Okeechobee is insignificant compared with the flood-waters of the great river which drains a third of this whole country.
The men who reclaim waste land, the men who introduce valuable plants from foreign lands, are doing a great work for all time. They may be long forgotten, but the effects of their labors will roll down the ages for all time to come.
All other movements are insignificant in comparison with the one great movement of producing the largest amount of food and shelter for our people with the minimum of labor outlay.
Remove the water from the Glades, plant forage crops, keep animals, convert all roughage and waste products into manure and the agricultural future will be assured for all time to come. The maintenance of soil fertility and the control of plant diseases are the two main agricultural problems throughout the world.
As to the production of vegetables nothing need be said, since it is hard to name a common garden variety which will not thrive on the glades. As to the production of rice, sugarcane and tobacco the prospects are not so bright for the small farmer.
The Everglades will grow many of the vegetables and forage crops of the North in midwinter, and in addition a long list of tropical trees, fruits and vegetables which cannot be grown elsewhere in our country. All that part of Florida south of Ft. Lauderdale is tropical and has tropical flora. It is the only part of the United States where the mango, avocado, sapodilla, anonas, etc., thrive.
The territory toward Cape Sable (Lower Glades) is still a wild and unclaimed region. Its development has just begun, although its possibilities may be unlimited. The whole country needs people and capital, coupled with active enterprise. The tide is moving Southward and it is human nature to follow the crowd. If one cannot prosper in agriculture in Southern Florida, there is little hope elsewhere in this line.
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