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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / State & Local / South
  • Language:English
  • Pages:216
  • eBook ISBN:9781618500274

Black Gold and Silver Sands:

A Pictorial History of Agriculture in Palm Beach County.

by James D. Snyder

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An historical documentary in words and pictures. Published 2004 by Pharos Books and the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Available in hardcover (coffee table size) and eBook formats. 224 pages, 247 photographs, index, end notes, resources and references.

Flood. Frost. Drought. Depression….None of them was a match for the dogged determination of pioneer farmers to transform tracts of sand, saw grass swamp and muck land into the agribusiness infrastructure that underpins Palm Beach County, Florida today.


Black Gold and Silver Sands, with 247 photographs from museums and family collections, tells the dramatic history of Palm Beach County farming from the days of the hardy pioneers who grew pumpkins and pineapples on the shores of Lake Worth. In this handsome coffee table book, you’ll read diaries, letters and personal interviews that describe:

• How the first farmers endured sun, spoilage, fickle waterways and lumbering steamboats in their struggle to bring crops to northern markets.

• The first attempts to farm the black gold (muck) around Lake Okeechobee when its only other inhabitants were hunters, “cow catchers” and catfishers.

• The hurricanes of 1926 and 1928: how they swallowed up whole islands in Lake O and how they spurred action to create what would become one of the world’s most intricate systems of canals, locks, dams and ditches.

• How the first mechanized farming helped feed a hungry Europe during World War II, and why Palm Beach County soon came to lead the nation in several key crops.

• How hard working families in Palm Beach County transformed their farms into agribusinesses that now help feed the nation in the Age of Wal-Mart.

About the author

Author-historian James D. Snyder has written eight books ranging from this first century history to the colorful 5,000-year-old history of Indians, Spaniards and farmer-settlers in Florida. He has a journalism degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a master's in political science from The George Washington University.

Before his second career as an author, Snyder spent over twenty years in Washington, DC as a magazine writer, editor and publisher. He then formed Enterprise Communications Inc., which published seven business magazines and sponsored several conferences. He now lives in Tequesta, Florida on the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River.