Jupiter’s School Boat

In the early 1900s when the town moved from the Square Grouper area to the Sawfish Bay Park children were "boated" to school

How did kids get to school around in the early 1900’s? With so much water around our area the most logical choice was by boat.

The Jupiter school boat was called “The Maine” in honor the of the battleship U.S.S. Maine that sank in Havana Harbor in 1898 igniting the Spanish American War.

If you look at a map of Florida from the early 1900’s you’ll see that a sparsely populated town near the coastline.

At that time, travel over land was extremely difficult as witnessed in the photo on the right.

The story of the school boat was best told by Elsie Dolby Jackson in her book, “Early History of Jupiter”.

It starts with the account of Dr. Charles Jackson, a homesteader on the Loxahatchee River. 

Dr. Jackson, his wife, son and daughter came here in 1895. They had moved South for the doctor’s health. Probably no one family did any more to help Jupiter than this one. The doctor was a physician, minister and friend to old and young in the community. During the winter of 1895 and 1896 he taught school at East Jupiter. In the summer of 1896 he started raising pineapple on the bank of the river. This proved a success for the industry was very profitable.

In 1901 and 1902 he taught again at North Jupiter”. Classes were held in a dilapidated one-room building. It was located East of the railroad. The next two years Jackson taught at West Jupiter where his daughter, Mary, was his assistant. 

The winter of 1903 and 1904 was the first school boat year. The doctor not only taught school but ran the boat as well.

The Jacksons good fortune ran out after three years when they lost their house to a fire. Dr. Jackson went into the “pines” very heavily in 1905. That industry, temporarily. Proved a failure in this section, though due mainly to the high cost of freight. 

It placed the doctor in such a position that in 1910 he left for Cocoanut Grove. He has since served there as rector of the Episcopal Church. To say he is missed is expressing our sentiments very mildly.

With new roads being built and assembly line automobiles costing under $1,000, the need for the little school boat became unnecessary and was discontinued.

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