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Metamora of Palatka: 1902

Florida circa 1902. "On the Ocklawaha." Steamboat Metamora of Palatka. Photo by William Henry Jackson. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.

Florida circa 1902. "On the Ocklawaha." Steamboat Metamora of Palatka. Photo by William Henry Jackson. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.


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I stumbled across this forum and found it interesting as the co-owner and Captain of the Metamora was my grandfather Joseph Edward Lucas.

Metamora looks a bit run down.

The lowest tier of siding appears to be covered with the familiar Florida algae and fungus. There are lots of broken slats in the stateroom shutters. I wonder if deferred maintenance had anything to do with Metamora's upcoming loss on the river.

I would love to build a model of this little tub-- anyone know where I can get plans?

Hyacinth countermeasures

The Ocklawaha, in common with many Southern streams, was totally overrun with South American water hyacinth (a pest to this day). Bringing the wheel inboard let the hull of the boat act as a sort of "icebreaker" to push through the floating mats of weed, and kept the wheel clear.

New Line

Yes, the Ocklawaha steamers' inboard paddle design was intended to reduce fouling in the tight confines of the river.

Lucas' New Line was a less successful imitator and rival of Col. Hubbard Hart's original and larger Palatka-Silver Springs line.

Metamora model

I was recently at the Florida History museum in Tallahassee and they had a wonderful scale model of Silver Springs. One of the boats in the model is the Metamora.

Smoke on the water?

What is the stuff that looks like smoke, and is reflected in the water, but apparently coming from pipes there at the waterline? Wouldn't the exhaust come from the stack?

[It's steam. - Dave]

Trail Blazing

I love the way the angle makes it look as though it's blazing its own path through the swamp!! Wonder how often random snakes and critters ended up on-deck.

Palatka Pix

The Putnam County archive has more pictures.

Metamora lost to the swamps.

I can find nothing on the Metamora in steamboat lists. I believe the reason for the small wheel is that the boat is small. No more than 12 feet wide and maybe 60 feet long. Not much room for large compound steam engines to move a bigger wheel. Note the chains and rudder arms aft of the wheel. A very simple steering setup.

Walt's inspiration

Since no one has mentioned it yet, I have to: This is the jungle cruise at Disneyland.

Spanish Trimmings

The spanish moss just dripping off these trees seems almost like a holiday garland and thus oddly appropriate for the season.

On the Ock

Have kayaked the Ock many times. It's quite beautiful with much wildlife to be seen along the way. One obstruction, the Rodman Dam in Putnam County, constructed in the 1960s as part of the ill-fated Cross-Florida Barge Canal, is scheduled to be removed as part of a watershed restoration project.

Florida Queen

Without that caption, this could have been shot anywhere from Africa to the deepest Amazon. Looking for Bogart and Hepburn!

Enclosed Paddlewheel

What is interesting about this little steamboat is the fact that the stern paddlewheel is completely enclosed. Was this an attempt to keep it free of vegetation in this tough swamp enviornment? A very fascinating boat.

"This tortuous stream"

An ad from the 1903 edition of the Foster & Reynolds Standard Guide to Florida.


Most Attractive and Romantic Trip in the South!

No visitor can afford to visit Florida without having enjoyed a sail on this tortuous stream which flows through a dense semi-tropical forest. The night scenes, when this tangled mass of shrubbery is lighted by torches, are marvelous. A steamer of the LUCAS NEW LINE OCKLAWAHA RIVER STEAMERS will leave Palatka for Silver Spring on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 12.30 p.m., after arrival of trains from Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

Returning leaves Silver Springs Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 12.30 p.m., after arrival of trains from Tampa, Ocala, and other places on the West Coast.

ASK MR. FOSTER, at the Standard Guide Information Bureaus, Cordova Corner, St. Augustine, and Palm Beach, for further information and printed matter of all the Hotels, Routes and Resorts here advertised.

Lucas New Line

From the Ocala Star Banner of May 8, 1966:

Another interesting sight was the arrival of the "Hart Line" or "Lucas New Line" steamboats from Palatka, which was a 24 hour trip through tropical scenery.

And they complain about propellers

I wonder how many manatees got brained by that mixmaster! Or perhaps the paddle was better at turning gators into shoes.

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