A Program of Marion County Schools

Steamboat Hiawatha

Postcard of steamboat Hiawatha at night, Silver Springs. The steam-powered paddle wheeler Hiawatha was built in Palatka, Florida in 1904 by Hubbard L. Hart and transported tourists from Palatka to Silver Springs up until about 1920. At 89 feet in length, the Hiawatha was the largest boat in the Hart Line and could carry up to 90 passengers. Tourism was already big business in Florida by the early twentieth century and steamboat owners vied to attract customers. Timing a voyage to enter Silver Springs at night for added dramatic effect was made possible by a large fire basket on the roof of the boat to illuminate the river. This experience would have been an amazing adventure for visitors to Florida and is described on the back of the postcard as “No scene so weird was ever found elsewhere or even imagined” (SRM2009-2-62).