The Historical River

When south Florida was first settled—and up until the first canal drainage projects in the late 1920s—the only solid mainland was a narrow string of islands or keys between the Biscayne Bay and the Everglades on the Coastal Ridge.

Rand, McNally, and Co. 1884 (Bloomfields Illustrated Historic Guide) Library of Sandra Henderson Thurlow. via

Before the drainage projects of the late 1920s and 1930s, the Everglades flowed south from lake Okeechobee, hemmed in by the coastal ridge on the east. Where breaks in the coastal ridge allowed water to pass to the sea, small rivers formed. Biscayne Bay has four of these original rivers.

The Transverse Glades are clearly visible in this historic flow map—from Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades by Christopher W. McVoy

The Transverse Glades became the Little River at about NE 1st Avenue: a trickle in the dry season and a torrent in the wet season. It was joined by a spring trace that was harnessed to power a coontie mill near Sherwood Forest Park. The river flowed past the Tequesta Indian mound, where there was a bubbling spring in the middle of the river, according to early plat maps of the area.