Travel Innovations Lined Path to Today's Palm Coast
A Journey into Palm Coast
The story of Palm Coast's development and that of Florida are tied to introductions of new modes of transportation.
As most of the state's school children know the initial development of modern day Florida is attributable to Henry Flagler. An industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil, he was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of both Miami and Palm Beach, Florida.
On the advice of his physician, Flagler traveled to Jacksonville for the winter with his first wife, Mary (née Harkness), who was quite ill. Two years after she died in 1881, he married again. Ida Alice (née Shourds) Flagler had been a caregiver for Mary. After their wedding, the couple traveled to Saint Augustine. Flagler found the city charming, but the hotel facilities and transportation systems inadequate. Franklin W. Smith had just finished building Villa Zorayda and Flagler offered to buy it for his honeymoon. Smith would not sell, but he planted the seed of St. Augustine's and Florida's future in Flagler's mind.
He went on to develop a number of hotels. Realizing the need for a sound transportation system to support his hotel ventures, Flagler purchased short line railroads in what would later become known as the Florida East Coast Railway. He modernized the existing railroads for them to accommodate heavier loads and more traffic.
In 1912, and after extension to West Palm Beach, Miami, and Key Biscayne, the Florida Overseas Railroad was completed to Key West. Over thirty years, Flagler had invested about $50 million in railroad, home and hotel construction and had made donations to suffering farmers after the freeze in 1894.
Another important development was the inauguration of the intra coastal waterway.part of a route from New England to Texas it curved its way down the Atlantic coast and back up on the Gulf side. It was built to provide a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea. It also allowed for development of support business and residential areas nearby.
We have already written of the impact of the opening of the interstate highway (I-95 locally), and especially the opening of a Palm coast interchange on I-95.
And finally, let's not forget how jet travel changed Florida - first in Miami, then on the Gulf coast, then Orlando and Jacksonville and eventually the entirwe styate.
So changed is the Sunshine State that it is often only in pictures that many can recall what it used to look like.