Everglades Timeline

Depression, the New Deal, & the War Years in the Everglades


everglades timeline



President-elect Herbert Hoover toured the South Florida areas devastated by the hurricanes of 1926 and 1928. "As a humanitarian he had been saddened by the evidences of destruction and great loss of life. As an engineer, he had visualized the means to prevent a recurrence of such disasters -- and later, as president, he utilized his authority first, to accelerate the involved legistation...."to better protect south Florida's settlers from nature's wrath (Will, 1961).


Congress passed the River and Harbor Act of 1930, authorizing the construction of 67.8 miles of levee along the south shore of Lake Okeechobee and 15.7 miles of levee along its northern shore. This was the first phase in the construction of the Hoover Dike, a seven-year public works project that boosted the region's economy during the peak years of the Depression.


In February, the Everglades National Park Committee visited south Florida, writing in their report to the Interior Department that the tropic Everglades met the standards for a national park. Members from the Senate Public Lands Committee visited the Everglades in December.

The first State reservation, consisting of 99,200 acres of forbidding wilderness in the Ten Thousand Islands region of Florida, was established for the Seminole Indians.
An extreme dry spell resulted in lowered water tables and the threat of serious seawater intrusion into the municipal wells of Miami and other coastal cities.

The Everglades National Park Project was authorized by Congress on May 30. To make the Park a reality, the State of Florida was required to acquire over 2 million acres by through public and private donations. Several of the large landowners in the Everglades met to set a minimum price for their lands of $5.00/acre.

US Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act, reversing earlier policies and encouraging tribes to form their own governments
Big Cypress Reservation – 104,800 acres of swamp and marsh in south Florida -- was set aside for the Seminole Indians. More than half was taken back by the government in 1951 for a drainage project.
Concerns from Seminoles living within the boundaries of the future national park went largely ignored by government officials and the National Park Committee, but newspapers reported on the problem.
A Labor Day Hurricane struck the Florida Keys at Matecumbe, killing 409 people and destroying the tracks of the Florida East Coast Railway. The history-making railroad was subsequently abandoned and its bed was used as the foundation for the Overseas Highway.
A giant mastodon graveyard was dredged up in the Caloosahatchee River during dredging operations.
The Hoover Dike, flanking three quarters of Lake Okeechobee, was completed at a total cost exceeding $23 million dollars. The top of the dike extended 18 to 22 feet above the normal lake level.
Small Indian villages were established along the Tamiami Trail where motorists could stop to purchase craft items and color patchwork clothing.

Severe drought, following decades of drainage, led to dramatic wildfires across the Everglades. The region's precious organic soils were consumed by the fires and lost forever.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas published The Everglades: River of Grass

President Truman dedicated 1.3 million acres Everglades National Park, the first national park to be established because of its biologic wonders.


Congress authorized a massive public works project called the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project to control the water flow in the Everglades. From 1949 to 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District built and operated the project works.

Timeline prepared by Gail Clement, University Librarian, Florida International University

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