Before the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened in 1954, the drive between Bradenton and St. Petersburg was 69 miles, which took at least an hour and 15 minutes.
Beginning in 1926, The Bee Line Ferry could take passengers and cars across Tampa Bay shortening the trip to just 22 miles and about 40 minutes. You can check out the archived photos in the Eaton collection at the Central Library and on the Manatee County Library's website.
In 1761, the Quaker colonist Robert Harper established a ferry to cross the Potomoc and two years later the Virginia General Assembly established the town of "Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper's Ferry." The town became known as "Harper's Ferry" and later "Harpers Ferry." Historically, Harpers Ferry is best known for abolitionist John Brown's raid on the Armory there in 1859 and its role in the Civil War.
"The Good Lord Bird" by James McBride is a sizzling historical novel about this sobering chapter in American history. The narrator of the novel, Henry, is a young slave mistaken for a girl when he is "adopted" by John Brown and his followers. Nicknamed "Little Onion" by John Brown and feeling safer disguised as a girl, Henry becomes part of Brown's renegade band in their battle against slavery. Though they travel to New York to meet with Frederick Douglass and to Canada to enlist the help of Harriet Tubman, Brown fails to muster sufficient support for their mission to liberate African Americans and his fanatical pursuit for racial freedom culminates in the bloody raid on Harper's Ferry.
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"Daughter of the Stars" by Phyllis A. Whitney is a spellbinding tale of a young woman's search for her family and truth. After receiving an urgent letter, Lacey Elliot rushes to the town where she was born, Harpers Ferry, W.Va., hoping to solve the 30-year-old mystery of her father's murder. The mystery is heightened by a few Civil War ghosts who shed light on the killing. Details of the town and John Brown's raid provide great historical background to the story. Suspense fans will be caught up in the many plot twists and the surprise ending.
"The Unresolved" by T.K. Welsh, is a ghost story, a love story and a tribute to those who died in the second-largest disaster in New York City history (until the events of Sept. 11, 2001). This young adult historical novel is narrated by the ghost of a 15-year-old girl who drowned when the passenger steamship Gen. Slocum caught fire and sank in the East River on June 15, 1904, leading to the deaths of more than 1,000 passengers.
Bound by love to her grieving family and outraged by the senseless deaths, Mallory haunts those responsible for the tragedy, and she attends the official inquest determined to see that justice is served. This is an intricate and gripping tale at once beautiful and shocking.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. You can also access the library via mymanatee.org/library.
. Cathy Habora is a staff member at the Braden River Branch Library.