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Captain Vaill’s Floating Hotel

11 Apr

TOURISTS’ AND SETTLERS’ GUIDE TO FLORIDA 1895-6

… If the traveler arrives before ” the season ” is fully opened he looks in vain for a hotel, while right before his face is the most celebrated all-the-year-house on the whole length of the coast — Vail’s Floating Hotel.

Stepping from the train, the traveler is met by a polite porter who takes his grip, and with a wave of the hand

74 tourists’ and settlers’ guide to FLORIDA.

and ” dis way, sah,” guides across a track to a plank walk, and with two or three steps he is in the forward end of a steamboat, and he is asked to register, for it is also a cosy little hotel office.

When the rush for the lower Indian River began, the only inhabitants anywhere near Jupiter Inlet was the family of the light-house keeper. Captain Vail took the steamer Rockledge from the upper Indian River, remodeled it and anchored it at the inlet for the accommodation of the on- coming prospectors. It here did capital service as a hotel for four years. When the cry came, ” Onward to West Palm Beach ! ” he pulled up his anchor and put his hotel in motion.

He entered Lake Worth and cast anchor snugly beside the railroad and depot.

The East Coast Line is rapidly extending still south-ward to Biscayne Bay as a terminus. As the season opens the Floating Hotel will follow the tide of travel. It will be found during the early winter at New River, and later at Biscayne Bay, where it will do its part for the comfort of the public until the contemplated hotel at Biscayne Bay is completed. It will accommodate 60 guests; its rates are 1^3.00 per day.

[ http://www.archive.org/stream/touristssettlers00ingr/touristssettlers00ingr_djvu.txt ]

{Excerpt from Henry Flagler’s Railroad Comes to Miami.}

The old steamboat Rockledge that had been a pioneer craft on the Indian River, known as Captain E. E. Vail’s Floating Hotel, appeared in Miami harbor. It offered accommodations for 5o guests and became the first hostelry in town. The more well-to-do of those who were building the city made their headquarters on this vessel, which had served in like capacity at Jupiter and West Palm Beach. It never left the neighborhood and eventually sank near Miami Avenue Bridge in the Miami River, where its hull could be seen for some years thereafter.

Capt. Vail’s obituary from the Miami Metropolis – Nov. 11, 1904.

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