Surviving Hell to Gain Paradise: The Gilded Age Conspiracy and Secret Railroad Expedition That Turned Florida Upside-Down and Led to the Taming of America’s Last Frontier
Minchin, Robert Edward
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CitationMinchin, Robert Edward. 2019. Surviving Hell to Gain Paradise: The Gilded Age Conspiracy and Secret Railroad Expedition That Turned Florida Upside-Down and Led to the Taming of America’s Last Frontier. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractFlorida’s Everglades are like no place on earth; beautiful, dangerous, forbidding and unforgiving. As of 1892, the Everglades and surrounding swamps had never allowed an expedition made up of men of non-indigenous descent to cross its turf from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico beneath Lake Okeechobee. For a little over a decade, since Florida was “opened up,” men with money and men (and one very significant woman) with vision had seen enormous potential in the land beneath the 27th parallel. The story of the Everglades Exploration Expedition of 1892 is a mere footnote in history today, but it is an amazing story that needs to be told. Before the Expedition, Florida was the poorest state in the union, and the least populated. The Expedition was remarkable in many ways. Like the Lewis and Clark Expedition, this “Voyage of Discovery” was remarkable in its danger, its difficulty, and its many discoveries, but the intrigue surrounding this Expedition is also remarkable. Unlike Lewis and Clark, this Expedition was not publicly funded, but funded solely by a very private multi-millionaire, which leads to another difference in the two excursions. While the Lewis and Clark Expedition is a part of any comprehensive elementary school history book, and is common knowledge to scores of millions, the Everglades Exploration Expedition of 1892 (aka The Ingraham Expedition) is known to almost no one. The biggest thing the two nineteenth—century expeditions share is the fact that both led to immeasurable change in the areas through which they traversed.
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