On February 7th, 1895, the State of Florida experienced a second freeze that wiped out the citrus crop everywhere north of Fort Lauderdale. The winter of 1894-95 was particularly tough for the citrus growers and farmers in Central Florida. The February 7th freeze followed an earlier freeze in late December of 1894.
This second freeze was part of Henry Flagler’s inspiration to extend his FEC Railway down to the edge of the Miami River. Prior to the winter of 1894 – 95, Flagler had always referred the area around the Miami River as a very nice fishing village. That was despite Julia Tuttle’s persistence in trying to get him to extend his railway and build a city in this part of Florida.
The reports coming out of Southeast Florida were that the freeze did not extend to either the New River or further south. Flagler was not able to determine what was true. Two days after the February 7th freeze, Flagler dispatched James Ingraham to determine what aide he could provide the citrus growers and to determine the validity of the stories coming from southeast Florida.
It was during Ingraham’s visit to the mouth of the Miami River that he confirmed that from the New River to the south, the vegetation did not show signs of frost. He gathered vegetation and wrapped it in a damp cotton cloth to return to Flagler. He also had a conversation with Julia Tuttle and the Brickells.
Speaking to the Miami Women’s Club in 1920, Ingraham did confirm the story of gathering of “blooms from various trees”, but he did not explicitly state that he was handed orange blossoms by Julia Tuttle to give to Flagler as proof that the area was unscathed by the freeze. However, urban legend has provided various stories of the gift of orange blossoms by Julie Tuttle as being the reason that Flagler visited the Miami area and then decided to extend his railway.Click Here to Subscribe
Read more information at Tequesta, “Birth of the City of Miami” by Larry Wiggins.
- Citrus Grove and Freeze by Florida History Network.
- James Ingraham by Florida Memory