Hillsborough River (Florida) - History - Timeline


(Pre-Columbian to the 18th century) Tocobaga Native American culture

(1528) Pánfilo de Narváez, a Spanish explorer, lands near Tampa Bay. He and the four hundred men with him find the Tocobaga culture established in the area.

(1539) Hernando de Soto, another Spaniard, comes to Tampa Bay and lands at what was probably the Hillsborough River. By the early 18th century the Tocobaga people, through disease and slavery, are nearly exterminated.

(1757) A survey of the Hillsborough River is done by Don Francisco Maria Celi, pilot of the Spanish Royal Fleet. He ventures up to the Temple Terrace area in search of longleaf pine to use as masts for his ships. He names the pine forest of the area "El Pinal de la Cruz de Santa Teresa" or "The Pines of the Cross of Saint Teresa". There is a plaque commemorating his exploration at Riverhills Park in Temple Terrace.

(1772) A map drawn and sent to English Earl of Hillsborough, Governor of West Florida, shows the river named as the Hillsborough. During the mid and late 18th century, Native Americans from the north, mostly Creek (American Indians), begin to migrate to Florida. These immigrants become known as Seminoles.

(1821) Florida becomes a United States territory.

(1824) Construction of Fort Brooke begins at the mouth of the Hillsborough River.

(1828) The Fort King Military Road (now State Road 41) is built to connect Fort King in Ocala with Fort Brooke in what was then the settlement of Tampa. A bridge is built to cross the Hillsborough.

(1830) Congress passes the Indian Removal Act. The American government begins efforts to remove the Seminole from Tampa Bay and relocate them to a reservation west of the Mississippi. Tensions between Seminole and Americans continue.

(1835) Seminoles burn the bridge at the Fort King Road’s river crossing. Conflict continues.

(1836) Fort Foster is established at the Hillsborough River crossing to protect this strategically advantageous position.

(1842) The Armed Occupation Act promises one hundred 60 acres (240,000 m2) of land to any man who can bear arms, build a house and cultivate 5 acres (20,000 m2) for five years.

(1846) The first ferry crossing on the Hillsborough River is established. This improves transportation and widens the growth of Tampa to both sides of the river.

(1861) Tampa Bay is blockaded by federal troops to prevent goods from leaving Tampa or from coming into Tampa.

(1863) Federal troops march upriver to a location near the present day site of Lowry Park Zoo. There they discover a blockade-running steamer and sloop loaded with cotton. The ships are burned. The skirmish that follows is the only American Civil War action on the Hillsborough River.

(1891) The Tampa Bay Hotel, now the Henry B. Plant Museum, opens with a grand ball.

(1897) At a cost of $150,000 an electrical dam is built on the river by Consumers Electric Light and Street Railway Company. The dam was located halfway between present-day 40th Street and 56th Street on the Hillsborough River (today's Temple Crest neighborhood.)

(1898) On December 13, 1898 the dam is dynamited by cattle barons angry at the loss of grazing land. They tried three times. The first on January 8, 1897,shortly after construction was completed. When the water is low, remnants of the dynamited dam can be seen.

(1898–99) TECO buys the Consumers Electric Light and Street Railway Company and builds a new electric generating dam downstream of the current site north of Sulphur Springs.

(1899) Tampa's first water plant is built by the private Tampa Waterworks Company. It pumped well water to supply the City of Tampa until March 6, 1923, when the people voted to purchase the Waterworks plant.

(1900) The Sulphur Springs (Sulphur Springs, Tampa, Florida) property is developed and open to the public.

(1910) Hillsborough Bay is channelized to the mouth of the Hillsborough River with the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Up to 1913 the Hillsborough River watershed is heavily logged for its valuable cypress, longleaf pine and oak.

(1911–1914) Bertha Potter Palmer (Bertha Palmer) (of Chicago and Sarasota) completes purchases of 19,000 acres (77 km2) bordering the Hillsborough River in present day Temple Terrace, Temple Crest, Terrace Park, Busch Gardens and the University of South Florida area. She calls her property "Riverhills Ranch", an exclusive hunting preserve where she builds a lodge and guest houses among other structures. She dies in 1918.

(1922) The Temple Terrace Golf and County Club, located on the river in Temple Terrace opens with a Washington Ball.

(1923) The city of Tampa builds a water treatment plant to utilize the water supply from the water above the dam.

(1935) Hillsborough River State Park is opened.

(1933) In a torrential 24 hour rain, floods wash away the Tampa Electric dam. TECO does not rebuild the dam and turns to other lcoations for electrical generating plants.

(1944) The city of Tampa completes construction on the current dam, to be used for the purpose of containing drinking water for the city, at the site of the old TECO dam. The old Tampa Waterworks Company is abandoned.

(1961) The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) is created.

(1960s-70s) The 14-mile (23 km) long Tampa Bypass Canal is constructed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). It includes a constructed canal and several concrete flood-control structures. During construction of the Tampa Bypass Canal the aquifer is accidentally breached.

(1979) The Hillsborough River is closed to swimming at Hillsborough River State Park and a swimming pool is built for public use.

(1982) Lettuce Lake Park opens on the river just north of Temple Terrace

(1986) The Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board & Technical Advisory Council is established.

(1986) Sulphur Springs pool (Sulphur Springs, Tampa, Florida) is closed.

(1988) The annual Hillsborough River Cleanup begins.

(1991) Canoe Escape is opened and the owners donate canoes and time to bring the Hillsborough River to the public’s attention.

(1992) The Hillsborough River Greenways Taskforce is established.

(1995) The Hillsborough River is designated as Outstanding Florida Waters.

(1995) The Hillsborough River is designated as a Florida Recreational Canoe Trail.

(1995) The Hillsborough River is named a Florida Sesquicentennial Greenway.

(1999) "Friends of the River" is created by local residents for the purpose of challenging the SWFWMD minimum flow of 10 cu ft/s (0.28 m3/s) of Sulphur Springs water alone for the river's only freshwater flow.

(2000) On the day after a massive Earth Day celebration at Lowry Park, highlighted by a "Flow-tilla" of dozens of boats from the Rowlett Park dam to Lowry Park, Friends of the River settles its legal challenge with agreement with SWFWMD, City of Tampa and Robert Thomas of Zephyrhills Water to study the river for 5 years to scientifically determine exactly how much freshwater is needed to restore and maintain the river's estuarine function. Friends of the River had maintained that the establishment of the minimum flow of 10 cu ft/s (0.28 m3/s) of Sulphur Springs water was a politically expedient solution with no basis in scientific data. Findings of the 5 year study to be used by SWFWMD as sole basis for modification of minimum flow.

(2002) Tampa Bay Water places a pipeline to the Morris Bridge Sink (http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/projects/1001008567/)

(2006) "The Hillsborough River Task Force", Temple Terrace, is created.

(2007) Alan Wright "Mr River" dies of cancer, December 21.

(2007) "The Lower Hillsborough River Minimum Flow Recovery Strategy" is adopted, based upon SWFWMD's 5 year study that documented a need for freshwater over twice that provided by its original rule as challenged by Friends of the River. A minimum flow of 20 cu ft/s (0.57 m3/s) is adopted, combining the original 10 cu ft/s (0.28 m3/s) of Sulphur Springs water with 10 cu ft/s (0.28 m3/s) added to the river from water stored in Tampa Bypass Canal. Minimum flow adjusted upwards to 24 cu ft/s (0.68 m3/s) in spring months (April, May, June) when fish spawning activity occurs in restored estuary. Daily minimum flow begins December 31, 2007.

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