Steamboats first appeared on the St. Johns for the first time in the 1860s. During the next several decades, the St. Johns River became Florida's first major tourist attraction vacationing Northerners. By the mid-1880s, Sanford had become a major distribution center due to the development of commercial steamboat service. The river became the State's first "highway", enabling homesteaders to move into the central part of the state. The steamboat era on the St. John's came to an end with the introduction of the Central Florida Railroad.