52 Deerfield Moments: #3
The Hillsboro River Becomes a Canal

The Hillsborough River - Deerfield Beach, FL

52 Moments in Deerfield History

The Hillsboro River

Becomes a Canal

Before the 1920’s there was a natural river that wound its way through what is now West Boca Raton and past what today is Sullivan Park. Early pioneers of Deerfield tell of swimming in the Hillsboro River and being able to look down and see the bottom of the river and to go fishing.

The death knell of the Hillsboro River came in the 1920s with the construction of the Hillsboro Canal.
In 1917 the army corp. of engineers started dredging the river to extend a passage to Lake Okeechobee. The dredging was done so that the farmers and fishermen from the area around the lake could bring their crops and fish over to the coast to connect with the water transportation to ship their products north.

The dredging of the Hillsboro Canal and the Intracoastal Waterway pretty much undid the shallow Hillsboro River, changing the river`s course and the future of Palm Beach and Broward counties.

“It was a river when the water was high” said J.B. Wiles, a Deerfield Beach resident for the past 62 years. “If you would come out here in the dry weather, you wouldn`t know it was a river.”