The GICA was organized in 1905, to promote the idea of a single channel that would connect all major Gulf coast ports. This very idea materialized some 44 years later, with the formal completion of the Waterway in June, 1949. A significant engineering achievement, the Waterway's creation was made possible only by the cooperative efforts of communities, legislators and government agencies, working together toward a common goal. From its early days, the GICA educated these groups regarding the importance of the Waterway, and facilitated their collaboration.
An extensive history of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is available. It is a report authored by Lynn M. Alperin as part of a National Waterways Study.