Saturday, May 29, 2004

Okeechobee's 1925 Toll Road

GCJ4B3 Conners Highway by team:CHETT: "Mr. Conners was a big man in the history of Okeechobee
W.J. 'Fingy' Conners started out his career as a cabin boy on a great lakes steamer at age 13. When he got a litle older he became a stevedore and by hard work..and some politics..soon became boss of all the stevedores on the great lakes, and made a fortune.
In the early 1900s he came to Florida and fell in with the high society folks on Palm Beach. In 1917 he invested $40,000 in 4000 acres of sawgrass land to farm and this was just the start of his land speculation. within a few years he owned all the land between Canal Point and Okeechobee, and then, by golly, he bought the whole townsite of Okeechbee too.
Well, Conners owned all these thosands and thousands of acres, but there was almost no way to get to any of it. He decided that he would build himself a highway to his town and charge a toll for those who used it. He petitioned the government and got permission to build a toll road from 20 mile bend in Palm Beach county to the lakeshore curve south of Okeechobee. This 52 mile road was started on Oct. 16, 1924 and an incredible eight months later it was finished! On July 24, 1925 2000 cars lined up and made the drive from Palm Beach, paying the $1.25 toll, and came to the grand opening of Conners Highway. The road was soon bringing in over a thosand dollars a day in tolls and people were coming to Okeechobee and buying Mr. Conner' property left and right, and he soon became a multi-millionaire.
Conners built a large house on the lakeshore curve right near the toll booth. The cache is located directly across the road from the site of the house."

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