New River, Fort Lauderdale, FL | CruiseBe
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New River

Natural sights
river, nature, sightseeing

The New River is a river in South Florida, USA. The river originates in the Everglades and flows east. After passing through Fort Lauderdale, the river enters the Atlantic Ocean at Port Everglades cut. The river is entirely within Broward County and is composed from the junction of three main canals which originate in the Everglades, splitting off from the Miami Canal. They are the North New River Canal, which flows on the north side of State Road 84 / Interstate 595; the South New River Canal, which flows on the north side of Griffin Road and the south side of Orange Drive; and a canal which flows south of Sunrise Boulevard.

Origin of name

According to a legend attributed in 1940 to the Seminoles by writers working in the Florida Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration, New River had appeared suddenly after a night of strong winds, loud noises, and shaking ground, resulting in the Seminoles calling the river Himmarshee, meaning "new water". The report of the Writers' Project attributed the noise and shaking to an earthquake which collapsed the roof of an underground river. Folk historian Lawrence Will relates that the Seminole name for the river was Coontie-Hatchee, for the coontie (Zamia integrifolia) that grew along the river, and that the chamber of commerce tried to change the name of the river to Himmarshee-Hatchee during the Florida land boom of the 1920s.

The English name is derived from early explorer's maps. The mouth of the river was noted for its tendency to continuously change its entry point into the Atlantic Ocean through the shifting sand of the barrier island. Each time the coast was surveyed and charted the entry point would have shifted. So the location of the mouth would not be on any previous maps, and from off the coast would appear as if it had just developed. With each charting, the location would be recorded with the notation "new river". Since that was the name used on the maps, that was the name by which the first settlers came to know it, so the name stayed.


The area along the New River was occupied in prehistoric times by people of the Glades culture. At the time of first contact with Europeans, Tequesta people lived in the area. The Tequesta were gone by the middle of the 18th century. By the 1830s, white settlers had established the New River settlement along the river. The settlers fled the area with the start of the Second Seminole War, and the U.S. Army built a series of forts called Fort Lauderdale near the river. The first fort was where the North and South Forks joined. The fort was later moved to Tarpon Bend, and then to the barrier island near present-day Bahia Mar. A trading post established in the 1890s by Frank Stranahan (1864-1929) at a ferry crossing of the New River became the nucleus of the city of Fort Lauderdale. Years later, Mrs. Ivy Stranahan recollected that in the early days of the trading post, the New River was so clear that fish and even large sharks could be easily seen in its depths.

Prior to the 20th century, the New River originated in the Everglades as two streams, the North Fork and South Fork, which merged and flowed about three miles into Lake Mabel, a coastal lagoon. The river was heavily modified in the first half of the 20th century. The North Fork was extended as the C-12 Canal along present-day Sunrise Boulevard, while the South Fork was extended by two canals: the G-15 or North New River Canal (created by 1912 to help drain the Everglades) and the C-11 or South New River Canal, which connects to the Miami Canal. The South New River Canal also connects to the Dania Cutoff Canal, which leads eastward from the C-11 canal to the Intracoastal Waterway. In 1928 a channel was dredged through a barrier island to connect Lake Mabel to the Atlantic Ocean, which allowed salt water and tides to intrude far up the river.


The mouth of the New River is located north of Port Everglades and south of Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Four bridges cross this first stretch of the river namely 3rd Avenue, Andrews Avenue, the railroad bridge, and 4th/7th Avenue. The Florida East Coast Railroad traverses the railroad bridge. After this stretch, the New River splits into North and South forks. The South fork is dominant and an important conduit for the maritime industry. On the South fork are numerous boat yards up to and past I-95. The North fork is shallower with a low clearance Broward Boulevard bridge that soon terminates the navigatable water.​

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