Filed Under Environment

Haulover Canal

The ancient passage from the Mosquito Lagoon to the Indian River

Now a popular spot for fishing and kayaking, the Haulover Canal, has long been a strategic site. Even before the present canal was dug in 1888, this spot was of great significance to the native peoples of the area. The narrowness of the spit of land here linking Merritt Island with the mainland was long a favored place to “haul over” their canoes from one body of water to the other. The first Spanish explorers also transported their small boats here from the Atlantic to the wide Indian River to visit the many native villages and seasonal camps that lay along its banks. The U.S. Army established Fort Ann nearby in 1837 during the 2nd Seminole War (1835-1842) to protect the portage from its use by Native Americans to carry out raids against early American settlers. The canal and its vicinity remain a popular local fishing spot and convenient place to observe dolphins and manatees. It is also a convenient launch to access the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.


The Haulover Canal today
The Haulover Canal today Source: Photo: Jud McCranie CC BY-SA 4.0
Navigation on the Indian River by the Ais
Navigation on the Indian River by the Ais In 1591 Dutch engraver and goldsmith Theodor de Bry published Grand Voyages, which contained the earliest known European images of Native Americans in what is now Florida. Some of them were based on drawings by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, a member of the short-lived French colony in Florida, Fort Caroline. De Bry obtained Le Moyne’s original sketches shortly after his death in 1588. These depictions reflect early European perceptions of the Timucuan communities of northeast Florida. Source: Florida Memory: Florida State Library and Archives
The Haulover at the time of the Second Seminole War, 1838
The Haulover at the time of the Second Seminole War, 1838 Because of its strategic importance, the Haulover was defended by Ft. Ann, constructed by the U.S. Army Source: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division
The 'Old' Haulover Canal
The 'Old' Haulover Canal In 1852, the federal government budgeted $5000 to dig the first canal across the Haulover. This canal was dug by hand through Coquina rock by slaves of a local citrus grower. Source: North Brevard Historical Society and Museum
The 'New' Haulover Canal
The 'New' Haulover Canal Florida Coast Line Canal & Transportation Company was granted a state charter in August 1881 to build and maintain a deeper and wider canal less than a mile north of the old canal. Digging began in 1885 and it opened in 1887-88. The New Haulover Canal was maintained and widened in the 1930s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s. Since then, it has been further widened and deepened and a basin for boat and kayak launches has been added. Source: North Brevard Historical Society and Museum


Bairs Cove Rd., Mims, FL 32754 | Bairs Cove Boat Launch Hours: Open 24 hrs. Admission: Free; charge for boat or kayak launch Amenities: Parking, historical marker Phone: (321) 267-1110


“Haulover Canal,” Explore Historic Titusville FL, accessed June 15, 2024,