Everglades Biographies

James Edmundson Ingraham

James Edmundson Ingraham, born on November 18, 1850, graduated from Racine College in Wisconsin and became a railroad engineer. Ingraham came to Florida in 1874 where he later served as president of Henry S. Sanford's South Florida Railroad Company. Ingraham was a member of the survey party that crossed the Everglades from Fort Myers to Miami in March 1892 in search of a possible railroad route for Henry B. Plant's railroad system. He caught Henry Flagler's attention when he reported that the east coast would serve as a more practicable route. Flagler immediately hired Ingraham and eventually placed him in charge of all land holdings. In 1897, Ingraham was made the third vice-president of the Florida East Coast Railway Company and in 1910 was made its vice-president. Ingraham was also president of several of the Flagler related land companies: Model Land Company, Chuluota Company, Okeechobee Company and Perrine Grant Land Company. From 1915 until 1920 he was mayor of St. Augustine. Ingraham died on October 25, 1924.

Biography prepared by Ruthanne Vogel, University of Miami

Quoted by John Clayton Gifford in The Everglades and Other Essays relating to southern Florida (1911)

"The project of draining the Everglades attracted the attention of Henry B. Plant in the early nineties, but he was by no means sure that the scheme was feasible, so I, acting under his direction, undertook an expedition through the region. Despite its proximity to centers of population, it was then for the first time thoroughly explored by white men. Ours was virtually a voyage of discovery. We paddled our light boats on lakes and camped on islands that, I have good reason to believe, had never before been visited by any human beings but Seminole Indians, and by these but rarely...our efforts were not in vain, for we ascertained the important fact that the Everglades, along the whole 160 miles of the eastern side, are rimmed by a rock ledge. We furthermore learned that all of the lakes are several feet above sea level, and we decided that there was nothing whatever to prevent the water of the lakes from flowing into the ocean and leaving the land drained if vents could be made in this long ledge of rock.

Experiment proved that this work would present no great difficulties. It was merely a matter of a great deal of digging. Henry M. Flagler took up the project, and it is being carried out by his lieutenants. We are not only making artificial outlets through the rock, but are also... turning large bodies of water into rivers and creeks which flow to the ocean. The work has progressed far enough to enable me to predict confidently the opening in Florida, within a very few years, of a great tract of land of almost unprecedented fertility."


Photograph of James E. Ingraham

Photograph of James E. Ingraham, in Florida the east coast: Its builders, resources, industries, town and city developments, 1924.

Image courtesy of History Miami (formerly Historical Museum of Southern Florida)


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