“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Canal Point in Palm Beach County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)

Conners’ Toll Highway

Conners’ Toll Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, December 30, 2015
1. Conners’ Toll Highway Marker
Inscription. Prior to 1923, travel into or out of the Lake Okeechobee Area accomplished only by boat or canoe. In the early 1920’s, W. J Conner, a New York winter visitor bought 4000 acres of undeveloped muck land near this site. Development required that this property be accessible by land. Being a man with financial and executive ability, he was not long in achieving his desire.

After obtaining approval from both houses of the State Legislature in the record time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, he set about building the W. J. Conners Toll Road. Although the terrain was unknown, Conners and his engineer, R. V. Patterson, constructed the road using dredges. A temporary railroad installed on the roadbed hastened construction. First work began on October 16, 1924 and the highway was completed on June 25, 1925, 8 months later. The final cost of the 52 mile road was $1,800,000. The road was hailed as an engineering marvel of the time and contributed greatly to the growth of this area. Although the toll was only $.03 a mile, the average daily toll gathered was $2000. After Conners’ death on October 5. 1929, the road ultimately was sold to the State of Florida for $660,000. This memorial is in tribute to his accomplishments.
Erected 1986 by The Glades Historical Society (sponsor) in cooperation with the Department of State. (Marker Number
Conners’ Toll Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, December 30, 2015
2. Conners’ Toll Highway Marker
Lake Okeechobee is on the left on the other side of the levee.
Location. 26° 51.97′ N, 80° 37.785′ W. Marker is in Canal Point, Florida, in Palm Beach County. Marker is on U.S. 98 just north of 3rd Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Canal Point FL 33438, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within 16 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Jupiter Indiantown Road (approx. 15.6 miles away).
Regarding Conners’ Toll Highway. The 52-mile road began at the intersection now named Twentymile Bend. It then runs northwest to Canal Point, which is the present roadway called Old Connors Highway (County Road 700). Canal Point is on the shore of Lake Okeechobee. From Canal Point the road, again U.S. 98, runs around the edge of the lake to the city of Okeechobee, then on to Sebring.
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia entry for U.S. Route 98. Prior to the designation of US 98 in Florida, sections of the route in the southern part of the state were part of the Conners Highway. The Conners Highway or W. P. Conners Highway was a privately built toll road from West Palm Beach, Florida to Okeechobee, Florida, and a free continuation of the road to Tampa, Florida. It cost $2 million to build across the swamps at the outskirts of the Everglades.

The toll section had three toll booths, at 20 Mile Bend, Canal Point and
Conners’ Highway image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of Florida Memory, 1923
3. Conners’ Highway
Highway on the left with water filled ditch on right. This dirt would have been used to make the ground high enough for the roadway.
south of Okeechobee. It was opened on July 4, 1924. The last section of the full route to be paved, from Okeechobee to Sebring, was paved in 1925. A toll of $1.50 per car and driver, and 50 cents extra per passenger, was charged at each toll booth. The route also included the Williams Ferry across the Kissimmee River west of Okeechobee, which charged 50 cents.

The highway was advertised as a cross-state alternate to the unpaved Tamiami Trail, also part of the west mainline of the Dixie Highway. Parts of it, including the tolled section, were used as the South Florida Connector of the Dixie Highway. Tolls were removed on June 10, 1930. (Submitted on January 1, 2016.) 

2. ‘The Great Developer’ Brought Civilization to a Swamp. 1982 article by Gene Burnett in Florida Trend magazine. Excerpt: “He put a road over one of the most ‘impossible’ swamp-choked terrains in Florida, from West Palm Beach to Okeechobee City, bringing in 1924 the first highway linkup to the state’s west coast.” (Submitted on January 1, 2016.) 

3. The Conners' Highway. There are pictures of the highway an its toll booths on this page. “Conners printed free road maps advertising the advantages of his highway connecting the east and west coasts of Florida. As Conners knew they would, the maps brought more and more business to the lake area. Daily toll receipts were calculated at an average of $2000 a day.” (Submitted on January 4, 2016.) 
Categories. Roads & Vehicles
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 135 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Vintage photos of the toll boths • • Can you help?
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