Earliest transportation in Florida was usually by water routes— north and south— since few rivers offered east-west communication. The inland, unsettled country was covered by pine and oak forests and a thick growth of palmettos, vines, and scrub. Canals to connect the Atlantic and the Gulf had been proposed as early as the first Spanish period, and routes were surveyed in the 1820s. When it became evident that tidewater canals would be difficult to construct and locks expensive, attention was diverted to roads and railroads.
"Some Early Railroads in Alachua County,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 53
, Article 7.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol53/iss4/7