Hubbard L. Hart was a native of Guildford, Vermont who was born on May 4, 1827. In 1852 he moved to Savannah, Georgia, and opened a stagecoach line that carried U.S. mail. Three years later he moved to Florida and opened a similar line linking Palatka and Tampa. By 1860 he had built a wharf at Palatka and operated a general store. That same year he purchased the steamboat James Burt and shortly thereafter the Silver Spring. During the Civil War, Hart carried supplies for the Confederacy. After the war he purchased additional vessels, cleared obstructions from the Ocklawaha River, and began transporting goods and passengers along the river. By the late 1860s, northern visitors began to flock to Florida, and Silver Springs became a popular destination. During the late 1800s, Hart's steamboat line prospered, and he also became involved in the citrus industry, the hotel business, and railroad and canal development. By the early 1890s, competition from railroads began to affect Hart's steamboat operations, but they still remained profitable during the winter months. In December 1895, Hart died as a result of a fall from a trolley car in Atlanta, Georgia. Hart's successors, however, continued to ply the Ocklawaha on steamboats into the 1920s.
The two documents reproduced here relate to the operation of Hart's steamboat line. The first is a request from a Baltimore steamboat company for Hart to provide prices for an Ocklawaha cruise. The second letter, written by Hart, discusses the operation of his steamboat line and possible sale of one or more boats, competition from the railroads, and whom he will employ as an engineer.
TOLCHESTER STEAMBOAT CO.
Chesapeake Steamboat Company Little Choptank Steamboat Co.
TOLCHESTER BEACH EXCURSIONS
STEAMBOATS TO CHARTER
Piers 15 and 16 Light Street W.C. Eliason,
President and Manager
Baltimore, 11/14 1887
Please give me your best rates for an Excursion party of from 5 to 15, on your steamers from Palatka, up the Ocklawha River to Silver Springs and return, also please give me the time of leaving of your boats, and if not asking to much, will you kindly send me the time tables of the Rail Roads running in your city. we are trying to get up an Excursion from here to Florida and the Ocklawaha River is one of the Sights we want