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Record Group Number: 000560
Series/Collection Number:
Creator: Canal Authority of the State of Florida.
Title, Dates: Canal Authority of the State of Florida record group.
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Biographical/Historical Note:     The Canal Authority was originally established by the State Legislature in 1933 (Ch. 16176, Laws of Florida) as the Ship Canal Authority of the State of Florida.  Its purpose was to acquire the land and equipment necessary to build and operate a shipping canal across the peninsula of Florida.  A connection between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico had long been a goal of Florida's industrial and agricultural interests.
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction in September 1935 under President Roosevelt's allocation of $5 million in Emergency Relief Funds.  However, Congress refused to allocate additional funds for the project, and construction halted when funds ran out in June 1936.  Congressional support for a cross-Florida canal grew during World War II, and on July 23, 1942, President Roosevelt signed federal legislation authorizing construction of a cross-state lock barge canal.  However, once again no funding was authorized for the project, and no progress was made.

    Interest in a cross-state canal revived in the 1950s as barge transportation on America's inland waterways increased.  In 1961, the State Legislature re-authorized the Canal Authority, renaming it the Canal Authority of the State of Florida and placing it administratively under the Board of Conservation (61-244, Laws). The Canal Authority transferred to the Department of Natural Resources when that department was created in 1969 (Ch. 69-106, Laws).

    Construction on the canal began in February 1964.  Repeated underfunding of the project caused significant delays, and growing opposition by conservation and other interests finally resulted in President Nixon calling a halt to construction in 1971, with work on about 25 miles of canal completed or under way.  In 1972 Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to reexamine the environmental, economic, and engineering aspects of the project.  In 1977 the Corps recommended that the project not continue.  Final federal and state deauthorization bills were passed in 1990, and Florida's Governor and Cabinet passed a resolution agreeing to the deauthorization in January 1991.  The Canal Authority continued in existence to advise and assist in developing land management plans for the lands acquired for the canal.
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