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Why did beachcombing in what is now the Miami coastline prove rewarding in the 1800s?


For ships in the days of sail, the Gulf Stream, which flows past the Florida east coast, offered the advantage of speeding one's passage. Dangers attended that route, however, for occupying the coastal shelf from Palm Beach County southward to Key West and the Tortugas are a series of coral reefs with which wooden ships could and often did collide and founder. It was from the potential bounty of such maritime misfortunes that wrecking arose as an important industry along the southeastern Florida coast. Those, so professionally inclined, would sail out to a wreck and salvage as much of the cargo and, indeed, of the ship itself, as was possible, realizing a percentage of the value thereof, as their reward. But many items from such distressed ships simply washed up on shore, providing pioneer beachcombers, isolated at the end of a long peninsula from the outside world, with a wide variety of useful items. Certainly, there are many instances of timbers from wrecked ships or from their cargos finding their way into local construction projects.

Answer: Valuable cargo could be found.

Posted at 06:00 AM on December 30, 2013 | Permalink


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