Office of H. L. HART's
Orange Grove and Ocklawaha River Steamers,
Palatka, Fla., Decr. 20th [?] /85
Capt J.H. [?] Smith
Sanford-- My Dr Sir--Yrs 19th at hand & Note Contents-- Think if you can sell for the 20,000$-- better do it-- fear you can't get 15,000 after the R-R- gets to running-- still think-- a Boat will pay then in winter-- there will be a big travel then this winter I think-- particularly if Ler [?] gets his Hotel to running right soon-- I have many en- -quiries-- about it-- & have agts- working for it &c-- I have a party feeling of me hear-- or wanting price - on 3 or 4 Boats for Ockla- -ha route-- that I think if they buy will pay cash-- (talking about 3/4 Int. [?] -I haven't given them price yet-- perhaps had better put in up-north too)- -Who Have you for engineer--chief for Astatula-- Will want Hunter [?] here about 1st Jany-- want to start str Okee-
State Archives of Florida: Collection M81-7, Box 01, Folder 1
Letter from Hubbard L. Hart of Hart Line Steamers to J. H. Smith discussing the operation of his steamboat line and the possible sale of one or more boats, competition from the railroads, and who he will employ as an engineer.
December 29, 1885
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.