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To The Old Dolphin

A transport craft at Chautauqua Landing on Lake Dora

To The Old Dolphin

A 1913 Poem by Paul Stokley

In Honor of Poetry Month 2024

Published 28 February 1913, To the Old Dolphin was written by a young lad named Paul Stokley. Only 13 years of age when his poem was published in the Eustis Lake Region newspaper, Paul’s poetic verse recorded for future generations a bit of history about early Lake Dora. I included this poem in Chapter 19 of my book, Mount Dora: The Lure. The Founding. The Founders.   

The steamer Dolphin, one of two steamboats operated by Calvin Gilbert of Mount Dora, made regular trips on Lake Dora for many years. Captain Gilbert died in Cuba on Christmas Eve 1899.

To The Old Dolphin

By Paul Stokley (1900-1997)

Published in Eustis Lake Region, February 28, 1913


In the lake near Dora with the trout and brim,

Lies the Dolphin wreck, like a sentry grim.

And upon the hill, not far away,

The passengers gathered on sailing day,

And the cause of many a laughter and grin,

Was the sailing points of the old Dolphin.


Now the night is fine and the breezes grand,

And no one aboard need carry a fan,

And the waves afar from the waters roar,

And the lights shine bright from Mt. Dora’s shore,

So, I take a stroll on the clear white sand,

And watch the tourists come gliding in,

Safe in the cabin of the old Dolphin.

In all our waters, both far and near, 

Among the boats, ‘tis the pioneer.

We think of its trips by the pale moonshine,

Ah, it has a record of “Auld Lang Syne!”

Let lightning shiver and northers rave,

Like a sprite it comes from seeming grave,

And the owner, too, so worried and thin,

Bares a great resemblance to the old Dolphin.


When the good old Chautauqua was in its prime,

The dear old Dolphin made wonderful time

To “Tav” by moonlight, with its tourists’ gay,

Of which some are now quite aged and gray,

And all desire, though far away,

To be back again on the Dolphin gay.


And now their offspring come gayly by,

With not a thought of the Dolphin nigh.

And when nights are dark, and the winds are still,

When the songbirds rest, save the whip-poor-will,

The hooting owl, in the twilight dim,

Hovers close to Capt. Gilbert’s old Dolphin.


Its moldering bow is seamed and checked,

Like a forehead old, with wrinkles decked,

And the bow upturned, like a ghostly hand,

Points far above to the starry land,

As if to tell, if tell it could,

When its sides were stout and its timbers good,

Of some who in its cabin have been,

Who are far from life and the old Dolphin.


And now, while thinking, I muse,

As a shelter for a cowshed, its deck is now used.

And over and over we gaze at the lake now,

For slightly submerged is its noble prow,

And our memory reverts to the dear old past,

As it glided between the points, going so fast.


Let me drink a toast to Capt. Gilbert’s old “D,”

To her skipper’s health and prosperity,

I’ll fill up a beaker, (a tomato can),

And drink to both from our flowery land.

And here’s a health to our town so fair,

Its lads and lassies, no matter where,

And a good, deep draught to the toilers thin,

Who are about used up, like the old Dolphin.


Gilbert Park in Mount Dora is named for the Calvin Ransom Gilbert family who arrived in the tiny upstart village of Mount Dora in 1884.

Mount Dora: The Lure. The Founding. The Founders.

By Richard Lee Cronin

Click on Cover to view at Amazon

Visit to view my complete line of Florida history books

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