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Concrete Bridge to Daytona Beach

The Concrete Bridge to Daytona Beach, Florida (Postcard). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/163424

No one wants to spend money to build a bridge to nowhere, so what was going on across the Halifax River in the late 1880’s that made bridges so necessary? The answer is not that there were businesses over there, and not that there was a large population: It was that there were wealthy or influential people across the river who wanted a bridge conveniently located.

Ormond had plans for hospitality to rich northerners coming for our warm winters. Wealthy Daytonans had built homes across the river and were dreaming of establishing the small communities known as Memento, Goodall, East Daytona, Seabreeze, and Daytona Beach [to distinguish it from Daytona, the large town on the mainland]. None of these towns built on the barrier island that we call the “peninsula” could be accessed from the sea, so bridges were the necessary alternative to being ferried across the Halifax River, and in the 1880’s, money could get things done.

What settlers and developments along the Halifax River made any bridges necessary? All of the plantations had been burned during the Second Seminole War in the 1830’s, and by 1854 there were only a couple of dozen families living in all of Volusia County. Before the Civil War there were a handful of families eking out a hardscrabble living in log homes in the Tomoka Settlement  [in the area of today’s Tymber Creek subdivision].  Then after the Civil War, in 1866 near the mouth of Mosquito Inlet (Ponce Inlet), John Milton Hawks brought hundreds of laborers to establish a sawmill, but it failed financially. In the same year John Andrew Bostrom and his brother Charles moved to the Silver Beach area on the peninsula, just north of today’s Orange Avenue/Silver Beach Bridge, but in 1868 they relocated north about six miles to homestead on the peninsula about a quarter mile south of today’s Granada Bridge (Strickland 36-37).

The 1870’s

Then in 1870, Ohio entrepreneur Matthias Day bought part of a land grant along the uninhabited mainland riverfront in what would later be named Daytona in his honor. His plan was to sell lots for orchard groves and homes, but his project also failed, leaving only a few families along the river.

In the same year, 1870, J. D. Mitchell homesteaded on the riverfront of the peninsula about a block south of today’s Main Street, improving it over the next few years to become what Volusia historian Pleasant Donald Gold calls “a show place” (Gold 137).

Also around 1870 a second homesteader, John Bottiphur (sic) [Botefuhr?], a man of apparent wealth, built what Gold describes as a “pretentious home” on the peninsula about a mile south of the Silver Beach area (Orange Avenue). After living in Swatow, China, Bottiphur filled his house with Chinese curios when he retired here from his years of ship-building and being a sea captain. He was known for his “span of horses” that he drove in his carriage on the hard sands of the beach, but he was compelled to relocate his house because it had been built off his actual property (Gold 137).

Those were the only two homes on the peninsula in what is now Daytona Beach, and only the Bostroms were on the peninsula in the Ormond area. How was it, then, that within another 18 years money was spent to build not one, but three expensive bridges?

Entrepreneurship and hope were about to bring growth to east Volusia. For example, about 1873, J. W. “Parson” Smith was homesteading on the peninsula with plans to sell lots to establish a community he called Memento. He even had plans at the northern section of the property for what was to become today’s Pinewood Cemetery [bordering Main Street] (Schene 121).

Then during the fall of 1875,fifteen hopeful families moved to the banks of the Halifax River in what was to become Ormond, settling on the mainland side across from the Bostroms’ house. They had purchased some promising land of the Henry B. Yonge Grant, and these mechanics who would have about 80 acres each were primarily from the Corbin Lock Company, New Britain, Connecticut, so they called their community New Britain [later, Ormond]. Loomis Day, the son of Matthias Day, settled with them when he returned to this area from Ohio. It was an auspicious sign for the area (Pamphlet 29).

By 1876,  Daytona was ready to incorporate,  and they elected their first mayor and city council. It was still a time when paddlewheel steamboats were regularly transporting passengers and cargo. In fact, the river was the main “road” to Ormond, and on the mainland in Daytona, the few roads were actually residential dirt streets. On the peninsula, streets were as yet only dreams, but within a few years the scrub oaks would be cleared for graded roads extending all the way from the river to the ocean. Transportation across the river, though, was still limited to William Ketchell’s [Kitchell?] regularly scheduled steam ferry trips across the Halifax River (Schene 101, 121).

The 1880’s

Not to be outdone, the New Britain families followed suit, incorporating in 1880, and shortly afterward they held a festival and invited James Ormond, IIII, who had lived here as a child fifty years earlier, and the townspeople voted to change their name to Ormond, so Ormond-on-the-Halifax became truly Florida (Pamphlet 7).

The bustle continued, so much so that in 1883 Florian A. Mann established Daytona’s first newspaper enterprise, the Halifax Journal (Schene 121).

In 1884 David D. Rogers who had been elected to Daytona’s first city council , saw an opportunity to purchase 47 wild acres on the peninsula, extending from today’s Main Street south to Harvey Street. His vision was to establish a community he was calling Seabreeze, so he named his main street Seabreeze Avenue, but it was later renamed as we know it today–Main Street. He named the community Seabreeze after a resort on Delaware Bay. Strangely, though, this area that he dubbed as Seabreeze lost that name just a few years later to another community on the peninsula just north of his property. Instead, Rogers’s property came to be within the boundaries of a different peninsula town later incorporated as Daytona Beach  (“Seabreeze”; Schene 103).

That was also the year that Ormond went to the 1884 World’s Fair in New Orleans and “took the only prizes for collective exhibits awarded to Florida.” Ormond was now on the “world map” because of their success at the 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition (Pamphlet 30; “Cotton Exhibition”).

Likely anticipating the prosperity that the railroads would bring as they came through Volusia, another entrepreneur, Charles A. Ballough of Daytona, bought a homestead in 1885 on the peninsula [north of today’s Ocean Center], extending from today’s Oakridge Boulevard north to today’s University Boulevard [just south of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church]. Ballough’s land abutted J. W. “Parson” Smith’s Memento on the north side, but Ballough’s money-making plan was to develop his own property into what he would call East Daytona (“Seabreeze”; Schene 121).

The next year, 1886, Charles Brush bought 60 acres (apparently without beach access) between the Rogers’s Memento and Ballough’s East Daytona properties. [Today this area includes the land just to the west of the Ocean Center, which for many years earlier had been the location of the original Seabreeze High School] (“Seabreeze”).

Because of the growth on the peninsula, that same year, 1886, the federal government granted a request to open a post office named Halifax at the river’s edge near what is today Main Street. The post office was in the home of William Kitchell whose wife was post mistress, but four years later this Halifax post office was officially renamed Seabreeze (“Seabreeze”; Gold 138).

1st Bridge [Today’s Granada Bridge]

 In the mid-1880’s the narrow gauge St. Johns and Halifax Railroad was laying “hewn ties and rusty steel rails,” heading south from Palatka toward the east coastal towns of Volusia County, and this spurred a competition between Ormond and Daytona to be the first town to erect a bridge across the Halifax River. Tracks came to Ormond first, and freight was moving by November 1886; and by December 1, Daytona also welcomed its first train whistle (Stanton 105; Gold 131).

Ormond was eager to promote its town, and in February 1887, Ormond again won public accolades, this time at the South Florida Fair in Orlando, taking three of the four prizes for the best oranges in the state, and winning gold and silver medals, plus “$196 in premiums” for their exhibit of twenty varieties of oranges. Nothing would hold Ormond back now; they were determined to build the first bridge over the Halifax River (“American Garden”; Pamphlet 30).

In Ormond, by this time Joseph Price had a homestead on the peninsula, the relatively wild and undeveloped east bank of the Halifax River, and jumping at the opportunities they saw on the horizon, he and young John Anderson together built a long wooden footbridge stretching two-thirds of a mile across the river–wide enough for carriages; and they included a small drawbridge to let boats pass. With this bridge, they beat out Daytona, and as they saw it, they laid the path to riches for themselves. With their bridge in place, they were able to transport all the building materials needed to hurry the construction of their grand vision–the Hotel Ormond, which they were able to open on January 1, 1888. Ormond then could boast the only bridge across the Halifax,  and with this fine smooth wooden bridge their winter guests who would come by train could ride in style across to the east bank of the Halifax River to the majestic Hotel Ormond (Fitzgerald 189).

Ormondites were promoting the peninsula side of the town, noting it that it had “a number of fine residences and cottages,” and an 1888 Volusia County promotional pamphlet was praising the Hotel Ormond as having “one hundred sleeping rooms” with “all the latest improvements, gas, electric bells, hot and cold baths.” Safety was ensured “with a most perfect system of fire protection, having twelve hydrants in the halls, each with fifty feet of hose, so that a stream of water can, at a moment’s notice, be put into any room in the house.” Elegance, luxury, and social prestige were addressed: “By a new system of electric return calls every guest in the house can be awakened at once by the turning of a lever on the annunciator in the office.” The hotel touted its 28 open fireplaces, including “one enormous one in the great rotunda being a special object of interest and admiration to all visitors.” The hotel proudly announced that its “wide verandas command a pleasing view of the Halifax, while from the tower and pavilion , in the cupola, the river, the forests and the blue waves of the Atlantic, with the long, white line of tumbling breakers on the beach, appear in one grand panoramic view.” With these and other accommodations, Hotel Ormond was ensured to attract those of wealth and social standing (Pamphlet 8, 30-31).

As opportunities were expanding, Ormond had grown to 450 residents by 1888, and now that Ormond had its bridge; it was up to Daytona to follow (Pamphlet 30).

The Daytona area was continuing to thrive, especially on the peninsula. For instance, shortly before 1888, in what is today’s Daytona Beach beachside, Colonel Charles Cyril Post built a casino on the beach, but in those days the name casino had nothing to do with gambling. A casino was a building open to the public as a venue for concerts, dances, and other entertainment and civic activities. Post also constructed a 1200-foot pier at this location just south of today’s Seabreeze Boulevard and North Atlantic Avenue [A-1-A]. [This was not today’s Main Street Pier.] All of this outlay of money was with expectations that new money was certain to follow (Gold 139).

During 1888, Congressman Charles Dougherty of Daytona sponsored a bill for three bridges to be built in Volusia County–one over the Halifax River, on in New Smyrna, and one over the St. Johns River at Crow’s Bluff [today’s State Road 44 that leads from DeLand into Lake County] (Hebel 9).

Money did begin to flow to the peninsula, and in 1888 Charles Brush sold half of his [Ocean Center area] property for the development of homesites, and with prospects looking good that year, Charles Ballough arranged for the construction of a cottage overlooking the beach at the eastern end of Ocean Boulevard [now Seabreeze Boulevard], and he later enlarged it and named it the Clarendon, which was later the site of a large and profitable beach hotel. [Today that is the location of The Plaza Resort and Spa] (“Seabreeze”; Gold 139).

Daytona [the mainland Daytona] was also lauded in the 1888 promotional pamphlet, saying that visitors are attracted by “drainage ditches or canals which extend back into the hammocks, drawing off the surplus water and rendering them capable of cultivation.” These were newly constructed canals, what the pamphlet called “one of the most hopeful signs of that spirit which is making itself felt of late, even of progress on the remote East Coast.” [Today’s Palmetto Avenue was originally named Canal Street] (Pamphlet 15; Gold 105; Schene 120).

Mainland Daytona was acclaimed also for having more than 150 flowing artesian wells of 1 1/2 inches to 4-inches which “furnish an abundance of pure cold water,” and the pamphlet trumpeted  Daytona for being known as Fountain City (Pamphlet 7).

On the peninsula, also, growth and prosperity seemed unavoidable, because the peninsula had boomed to 1200 residents in communities that the pamphlet called Sea Breeze and Silver Beach. There was regular steam ferry access to each from Daytona on the mainland, but what was really desired was a bridge. (Pamphlet 7).

1st Daytona Bridge [Today’s Orange Avenue Bridge/Silver Beach Bridge]

Apparently not waiting for outside funding, “prominent” Daytona leaders of the day formed a corporation named Halifax River Bridge and Railway Company. One of these investors was Lawrence Thompson, who had built a home on the peninsula, Lilian Place, an impressive two-story Victorian home just north of the bridge on the east bank of the river. The investors planned for Daytona to match Ormond in bridging the Halifax River. Completed in 1888, this wooden span crossed the river from downtown mainland Daytona to Silver Beach.  Known for years as The South Bridge, it stretched from Beach Street at Orange Avenue, passing over the river just south of City Island [where Jackie Robinson Ball Park is today] (Hebel 9).

2nd Daytona Bridge [Today’s Main Street Bridge]

Tolls were charged to cross bridges, so money was to be made with a second Daytona bridge, and before the end of 1888 the North Bridge was built from the north side of Daytona at Fairview Avenue to what was then called Ocean Boulevard  [today’s Main Street].

3rd Daytona Bridge [Today’s Seabreeze & Oakridge Bridges]

 In 1900 the land area just north of Fairview Avenue (and on the east side of where Ballough Road would later be built) was prone to flooding, and it was known in those days as Orange Island which extended north about to where the current bridges are that cross the river, connecting Mason Avenue to the peninsula. It was at this general location in 1900 that fill was added north of Orange Island to shorten the distance needed to bridge the river. This bridge was funded by Colonel and Mrs. C. C. Post who developed the town of Seabreeze on the peninsula. Mrs. Post, the founder of the Mental Science movement, held an international conference in the town of Seabreeze in 1900, and by 1902 the Posts built a wooden bridge from Ocean Boulevard [today’s Seabreeze Boulevard] to Mason Avenue on the mainland [just north of the community of Kingston, now part of Daytona Beach] (Hebel 10).

4th Daytona Bridge [Today’s Broadway Bridge]

Eleven years later in September 1913, Daytona completed the first concrete bridge across the Halifax, and it was generally referred to as “the concrete bridge.” Although it took a year to complete, the bridge lasted until it was condemned 25 years later. It connected on the peninsula side to First Street, a dead-end street that years later was broadened, renamed Broadway Boulevard, and extended to reach the ocean. This was in the community of Goodall, named for Thomas Goodall, a winter resident whose father was Congressman Ernest Goodall of Maine. In 1897, Goodall “lost” its post office when the community of Seabreeze (several blocks to the north) received federal permission to move the post office from Seabreeze Avenue [now Main Street] to Ocean Boulevard [now Seabreeze Boulevard], which irked the Goodall residents, so in 1898 Thomas Goodall used his father’s influence to get federal permission to have a new post office named Goodall once again on Seabreeze Avenue [Main Street]. This dispute led to the incorporation of separate cities–Seabreeze and Goodall, which incorporated as Daytona Beach in 1905. It was not until 1926 that Seabreeze, Daytona Beach [Goodall], and the largest city, Daytona consolidated using the name Daytona Beach (Hebel 10; Gold 139; Schene 122; Fitzgerald 195).

Heydays were yet to come for the area, but the forgotten communities of Seabreeze, Goodall, and Daytona Beach have all been subsumed into the name Daytona Beach. Seabreeze High School, Seabreeze Boulevard and Goodall Avenue provide a few reminders, and although every early bridge has been replaced, their locations have remained essentially the same as they were in 1888.

Beneath the sources (below) is an addendum that explains changes of bridge names and street names and also the construction of the fourth Daytona bridge. There is also a list of the first 10 bridges built in modern Volusia County (since 1887).

To write this I used these sources:

American Garden: A Monthly Illustrated Journal of Horticulture. Google Books. March n.d. http://books.google.com/books?id=BB0CAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=orlando+orange+competition+february+1887&source=bl&ots=TyYGbhJq7v&sig=2uKeeFIvEps6raoRdfeNX_DAtsk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=toUkU7nWOqbD2AW4t4CwAg&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=orlando%20orange%20competition%20february%201887&f=false (accessed March 15, 2014).

Cotton Exhibition, 1884. October 15, 2012. http://www.neworleanspubliclibrary.org/~nopl/exhibits/gateway/1884.htm (accessed March 15, 2014).

Fitzgerald, T. E. Volusia County, Past and Present. Daytona Beach, Florida: The Observer Press, 1937.

Gold, Pleasant Daniel.  History of Volusia County, Florida. DeLand, Florida: E. O. Painter Printing, 1927.

Granada Bridge. March 5, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granada_Bridge_%28Ormond_Beach%29 (accessed March 12, 2014).

Halifax River. January 29, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_River (accessed March 12, 2014).

Hebel, Ianthe Bond. “Bridges.” In Centennial History of Volusia County Florida, 1854-1954. Ed. Ianthe Bond Hebel. Daytona Beach, Florida: College Book Publishing, 1955.

Pamphlet, Historical and Descriptive of Volusia County and Its Towns and Settlements, for Florida’s Sub-tropical Year, 1888. Jacksonville, Florida: DaCosta Printing, 1888. Rprt. 1982. Historic Byways of Florida Series. DeLand, Florida, St. Johns-Oklawaha Rivers Trading Company.

Schene, Michael G.  Hopes, Dreams, and Promises: A History of Volusia County, Florida.  Daytona Beach, Florida: News-Journal Corporation, 1976.

Seabreeze. March 13, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seabreeze,_Florida (accessed March 15, 2014).

Stanton, Edith R. “Story of Ormond Beach.” In Centennial History of Volusia County Florida, 1854-1954. Ed. Ianthe Bond Hebel. Daytona Beach, Florida: College Book Publishing, 1955.

Strickland, Alice. The Valiant Pioneers: A History of Ormond Beach, Volusia County, Florida. Ormond Beach, Florida: Ormond Beach Historical Society, 1963.

Addendum

I will try to help explain some greatly confusing aspects of these bridges’ names and the changes of the names of the streets on the peninsula to which they connected. (Be prepared to read slowly.) When this second bridge in Daytona was built in 1888, it was called North Bridge. In 1902 a third bridge was built, but it was north of North Bridge, so the original North Bridge was renamed Central Bridge. Then in 1912, a fourth bridge was built, which made Central Bridge no longer central, so North Bridge/Central Bridge finally came to be called the Main Street Bridge. That fourth bridge was originally called “The Concrete Bridge” (see the photo at the top of this blog). It connected Volusia Avenue (now International Speedway Boulevard) to peninsula’s First Street (which was later widened and extended to the ocean and renamed Broadway Boulevard), so when the original Concrete Bridge was replaced, the newer bridge was called the Broadway Bridge. Adding to the confusion is that today’s Seabreeze Boulevard was called Ocean Boulevard back then. Also, today’s Main Street was called Seabreeze Avenue back then. So in 1888 the North Bridge connected Fairview Avenue to Seabreeze Avenue, but Seabreeze Avenue was later renamed Main Street. The 1902 bridge connected Mason Avenue to Ocean Boulevard, but Ocean Boulevard was later renamed Seabreeze Boulevard.)

Volusia’s Earliest Bridges

1. 1887 (Ormond) (and a parallel railroad bridge in 1905)

2. 1888 (Daytona) South Bridge / Orange Ave. / Silver Beach

3. 1888 (Daytona) North Bridge / Central Bridge / Main St. Bridge

4. 1894 (New Smyrna) (North Causeway, Hillsborough River)

5. 1902 (Seabreeze) Seabreeze Bridge

6. 1906 (Port Orange) Dunlawton Bridge

7. 1913 (Daytona) “Concrete Bridge” / Broadway Bridge

8. 1917 (DeLand) Crow’s Bluff Bridge

9. 1954 (Bulow Creek) High Bridge (Smith Creek Bridge or Bulow Bridge)

10. 1979 (Daytona Beach) Seabreeze and Oakridge Bridges

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