FreightWaves Flashback — February 1959

The many industries that make up the world of freight have undergone tremendous change over the past several decades. Each Friday FreightWaves will explore the archives of American Shipper’s nearly 70-year-old collection of shipping and maritime publications to showcase interesting freight stories of long ago.

The following are summarized excerpts from the February 1959 edition of the Jacksonville Seafarer magazine. David A. Howard, the founder of Howard Publications Inc., launched the publication in Jacksonville, Florida. Howard later established the statewide maritime and trade publication Florida Journal of Commerce in 1969. He and his son, Hayes H. Howard, went on to expand it nationally in 1974, rebranding it as American Shipper. FreightWaves acquired American Shipper in July 2019.

Click here to view the entire edition of the Jacksonville Seafarer — February 1959.

12-ft. waterway to Miami 48 days ahead of schedule

News that Intracoastal Waterway dredging progress south of Wabasso, Florida, is already 48 days ahead of schedule has cheered metropolitan Miami and coastal South Florida shippers and receivers, who envision an eventual 10 million ton commercial cargo barge shipping potential for this waterway when completed to Port of Miami. Wabasso lies nine miles north of Vero Beach.

Equally interested in this, and subsequent, Intracoastal Waterway modernization are owners and operators of hundreds of luxury yachts, sail, inboard- and outboard-powered craft and self-propelled houseboats. They hail improved transiting conditions of this waterway from their northern and central states home ports to South Florida’s deluxe marinas.

Although the current dredging project calls for completing only 23 miles between Wabasso and the seaport of Fort Pierce Harbor to the south, by required contract date of March 1960, mounting enthusiastic area-wide response here is already pushing for more federal funds sufficient to complete the total remaining distance of 123 miles between Fort Pierce Harbor and Port of Miami.

Project specifications call for a channel width of 125 feet and a depth of 12 feet. Between Jacksonville and Wabasso, the Intracoastal Waterway channel has been dredged to these dimensions. However, from present dredging operations south to Miami, the channel width is 100 feet and depth 8 feet.

The Wabasso-Fort Pierce Harbor project cost is estimated at $1,922,400 (approximately $17,159,980 in 2020), which includes $90,000 (about $803,370 in 2020) for equipment mobilization and demobilization. An estimated 3.6 million cubic yards will be removed from the channel, much of it being deposited on designated construction spoil areas on low-lying land along the waterway.

Some hard rock bottom has already been encountered just north of the Wabasso bridge and more is anticipated to the north of Vero Beach but the two high-powered hydraulic pipeline dredges presently employed by the Norfolk Dredging Company and Western Contracting Corporation (prime contractor) are fully equipped for hard or soft bottoms and thus far have experienced no difficulty. A third pipeline dredge, employed by Arundel Corporation of Miami, is scheduled to begin channel widening/deepening operations between Vero Beach and Fort Pierce Harbor sometime in April.

The importance of Fort Pierce Harbor is emphasized in this overall improvement picture for its access to the open sea. Commercial and/or pleasure craft will utilize this intermediate Intracoastal Waterway port to a considerable extent when the channel improvement program has been completed to Fort Pierce Harbor in foul weather.

Meanwhile, private dredging operations are noted in the West Palm BeachMiami section of the Intracoastal Waterway. Approximately 7,000 feet of the channel has been dredged by private interests near Fort Lauderdale and Hallandale and a half-mile distance dredged north of Sunny Isles bridge.

Numerous groups are already pledged to urge the new Congress to appropriate funds for the earliest completion of the widening/deepening project all the way south from Fort Pierce Harbor to Port of Miami.

Florida is fast-growing U.S. market

Florida now stands as the 12th largest state in the nation, population-wise, having shot up from 20th spot during the last eight years, and is the fastest-growing large market in the nation.

The latest official estimates showed the states’ population as 4,442,000 on July 1, 1958. With this number of permanent residents, Florida passed by Missouri and closely approached Indiana (with a population of 4,581,000) and Massachusetts (with 4,862,000). Further, there is every indication that Florida will reach the ninth place between 1965 and 1970, the Florida State Chamber of Commerce reports.

The inflow of new residents reached a peak in the 1955-56 fiscal year, when 222,000 persons came from other states to make their homes in Florida. This rate slowed to 170,000 during the past fiscal year. Both figures are net of persons moving out of the state.

Striking a three-year average, Florida gained population at a rate of 5,032 persons each week during that time. This figure was made up of 3,855 new residents from other states and a 1,177 weekly net gain in native Floridians.

Other facts about Florida’s population growth are stated in the State Chamber’s business review. With a 60% gain since 1950, Florida is the fastest-growing large state in the nation. Nevada, with a population of 267,000, gained 67%, the only state to top Florida’s rate. In actual numbers, Florida has 1,671,000 more residents today than in 1950. This is almost the equivalent of the present population of Arkansas or Arizona or Oregon.

Florida’s population density stood at 51 per square mile in 1950. Today’s figure is 82, while the national average is 58.