Okeechobee County, 


A Pictorial History--Page 1

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Okeechobee City was laid out by the Florida East Coast Railway Engineers in the early 1900's, after Hamilton Disston had drained the land north of Lake Okeechobee.  It is located three miles north of the shores of the Lake, at a place originally called "The Bend".   At the time of the "Florida Boom" (1920's), it was advertised as the "Chicago of the South".   After the "Bust" it was just a  sleepy little Cow Town in South Central Florida.  I moved here in 1937, when I was two years old.    At that time the only jobs to be had were either in the Fishing Industry, or day work as a Cowboy. From that time until now, some sixty nine years, I have witnessed much change.  The pictures that you will see on the following pages capture the progress and flavor of this community.  Let me know how you liked the story and pictures.

Tommy  Markham


DarkGreenLine.JPG (100x3 -- 781 bytes)"Portions of the story were taken from the History of Okeechobee County, by Kyle S. VanLandingham and Alma Hetherington, copyrighted in 1978 and is reprinted with the permission of Mr. VanLandingham."DarkGreenLine.JPG (100x3 -- 781 bytes)

Everglades Time Line

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Hamilton Disston

Early Disston Dredge


In 1881 Hamilton Disston negotiated with Florida Governor Bloxham and the Internal Improvement Fund to drain all of the lands overflowed by Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River in exchange for one-half the reclaimed land. Disston also purchased outright from the State four million acres of overflowed lands at 25 cents an acre. 
In 1882 Hamilton Disston's companies, the Okeechobee Land Company and Atlantic and the Gulf Coast Canal Company, undertook the first attempt to drain the Everglades. They excavated 11 miles (17.7 km) of canal south of Lake Okeechobee in the direction of Miami. Additionally, Disston dredged a navigable waterway from Lake Okeechobee north to Kissimmee and west to the Gulf of Mexico, thereby opening the region to steamboat traffic.

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WEB DESIGN BY: Thomas A. Markham  markm1935@embarqmail.com