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Silver Springs: 1902

Silver Springs: 1902

Florida circa 1902. "At Silver Springs on the Ocklawaha." Our second look at the river steamer Metamora of Palatka. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative by William Henry Jackson, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Modern Navigation

The fore pole allowed the captain to know where his bow was in relation to floating debris and snags, that bit of fuzz on the middle of the pole was probably a string of moss used to show wind direction, useful when docking or steering in tight spots, much like the pennants flown on sailing and steam ships.

Upstanding bow line.

That's a "sight pole" on the bow, used by the pilot (helmsman) to help gauge distance and degree on turns in tight quarters.

[Note that a not very successful attempt was made to retouch it out of the picture. - Dave]

They Must Have Been Tough

I spent 12 miserable years in Florida and even with mosquito control, air conditioning and other modern conveniences, I would consider the state only partially fit for human habitation.

In 1902 the state must have been truly a hell on earth. I can't imagine how they did it.

[The passengers here are winter tourists. Not many full-time Florida residents back then. - Dave]


The Metamora's loss even came to the gummint's official attention.

Report of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor and Reports of Bureaus, 1904. Washington : Government Printing Office, 1905. p. 404.

Local District of Jacksonville, Fla.


March 19. — About 3.22 a. m. steamer Metamora suddenly sank in the Ocklawaha River, Florida, causing drowning of two members of crew (waiter and deck hand). Cause of sinking investigated, and licenses of Frederick E. Rossignol, chief engineer, suspended for 1 year, and of Frederick Priest, assistant engineer, revoked. Cases appealed and upon reexamination of matter by supervising Inspector, third district, decisions reversed and licenses restored to above parties.

Period photos

You can almost always tell a period photo by looking for periods at the end more than one word grouping. Even names of store owners on their signs. Here we have Lucas New Line with a period at the end. Period periods.

Quite a Change

From the dressed and top-hatted Tashmoo.


No one in this shot seems worried about the rope standing up on the bow by itself. I love this shot, you can almost smell the gators.

Not Long to Live

A sad end: "In the Silver River, near its confluence with the Oklawaha River, are the remains of the 1800's river steamer METAMORA, which sank March 19, 1903, with the loss of two lives (so it sank suddenly). "

The Metamora had a horizontal boiler like a railroad locomotive to keep her center of gravity very low.

The wreck is still visible and is a dive site:

Is That Bogie???

That looks like the "African Queen" tied up along the dock.

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