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    Alert in the Santa Fe Canal Alert in the Santa Fe Canal
Gone are the nights of moonlight cruises down through the Waldo Canal out into Lakes Alto and then Lake Santa Fe. Gone are the strains of music that the orchestra used to play for romantics and picnickers such as these on the ALERT. For decades, the lush orange groves around Melrose drew fame and tourists. The railroad ran to Waldo where a large station, two hotels, and other attractions were built for them. Boats carried the tourists to Melrose, through the canals and lakes, and brought tourists and fruit back. Freezes in 1895 and 1896 damaged the orange groves and spoiled some of the tourist enthusiasm. The ALERT sailed with an American Flag at its bow and a rowboat in tow and remained a favorite for the young-at-heart up to the First World War. Improved roads and the automobile doomed the era of steamships in Alachua County. (click image to view larger size)