The Princess Donna was built in 1934. Just imagine the stories she could tell....
She is the oldest operating commercial tour boat in Florida. A true piece of Florida History.
The average Cost of a new house was $5,970.00 Average wages per year $1,600.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 10 cents
Average Cost for house rent $20.00 per month
A loaf of Bread 8 cents
A pound of Hamburger Meat 12 cents
A new Studebaker Truck $625.00
These boats were one of the first tourist attractions in the state and people came from all over the country for a boat ride and to view the beautiful pristine natural springs. At the time, Silver Springs was perhaps the most successful and elaborately displayed single tourist attractions in America.
She’s powered by an electric motor just like she was in 1934. At one time this wood boat had 15 sister ships. They were all being phased out beginning in 1961 for aluminum boats that a few still operate to this day at Silver Springs Florida. Our boat is the only operational early circa boat remaining.
This boat operated for nearly 30 years and then left to rot for over 50 years before I found her as an unexpected barn find. It took several years to rebuild, lots of money and an arduous process to get her approved to operate once again as a US Coast Guard licensed small commercial passenger vessel.
Sadly not many records can be found about these old boats. We don't have any record of the boats original name, just the year. When found, it was named 'Princess Anne' which was definitely not the original name. Carl Ray and W.M. "Shorty" Davidson leased the Silver Springs property for 50 years from Columbus Carmichael starting in July 1924 and records show the following names are all the glass bottom boats Ray & Davidson had listed with the department of commerce between 1930 and 1960 (Merchant Vessels of the United States)
Bonnie Ray, Hannah, Harriet, No Name, Ocala, Ocklawahn, Old Sawannee, Seminole, Silverliner, The Madden, The Richey, Uncle Dave, Walter Ray, Wenona, Bill Blue and Jane.
Our boats original name is most likely either Harriet, Seminole, The Madden or Winona.
She's now named after my wife Donna who also works aboard as our deckhand.