In the 1960s, I grew up in St Lucie Estates, Stuart, Florida, the neighborhood just north and south of Kreugar Creek close to the St Lucie River, not too far from Downtown Stuart. Until I was ten, we lived at 109 Edgewood Drive. I loved that little brick house. I had full reign over the neighboring empty lots and could ride my bike on the “black road,” to get to a park, along the river, next to the Granfield’s house. The kids of the neighborhood often met there, and we pretended the gigantic, falling Australian Pine was a ship and we made it into our fort. We traveled across oceans. We fought pirates. It was a wonderful childhood.
As a kid, I had no idea of the long running issues with the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, the canals, and Lake Okeechobee. I just knew I loved the river. I loved that I could escape there. Even when I was in high school, living in Sewall’s Point, I’d steal away and sit under the bridges and “think” in the privacy of the river’s ancient calm.
Today, at half a century, I am still in love with the river, but I view it in a different light. A light of history and destruction. My heart aches because I really don’t know if it can make it against the odds. Now that I am older, I know its complete destruction has been coming for a long time, kind of like a cancer. I am miffed that since 1923, when the ACOE first connected the C-44 to the South Fork of the St Luice, that locals were not able to stop the “drainage machine,” as Ernie Lyons, previous editor of the Stuart News, called it. I am miffed also that the state and federal agencies would so blatantly kill an ecosystem.
When I look through my mother’s historical data and read the ads for selling land in Stuart in the early 1900s, it is ironic that they all incorporate the St Lucie River into their sell while they were killing her.
“Stuart on the St Lucie, 1907;” “St Luice Estates, On the Beautiful St Lucie River, 1926;” “Stuart, Atlantic Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, ca. 1926.”
The are all bragging about draining the Everglades; they are bragging about the digging of the Okeechobee Waterway from Stuart to Ft Meyers thorough Lake Okeechobee; they are basing the draw of the Stuart area on its location/proximity to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and yet they seem to have no clue that by supporting the over draining and over dredging of everything, they have created the rivers’ own destruction!
This is an excerpt from the St Lucie Estates sales booklet:
” St Lucie Estates is situated in one of the most gorgeous spots in Florida—the beautiful St Lucie River County…The St Lucie and the Indian River meet here to form one of the most wonderful bodies of water in the world—one hundred miles of navigable waterway, edged with luxurious tropical foliage able white sandy beaches…”
“In the introduction to my mother’s book, Stuart on the St Lucie, she writes” Pioneer businessmen of Stuart…realized the St Lucie River was the town’s greatest asset. To foster awareness they of the town’s superior location, they used “Stuart on the St Lucie” in promotional literature, on signs and as newspaper headings. Time has not changed the fact that the St Lucie River is the best thing about Stuart.”
The St Lucie is still the best thing about Stuart, and now we know better. The drainage of lands surrounding the St Lucie/IRL was too extensive. In order to make way for agriculture and real estate development. The St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon now take on more than twice what was originally drained into them.
The excess fresh water and pollutants have all but killed the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This chart shows the original drainage in green and today’s drainage which has been added to the green area in yellow. Lake Okeechobee’s discharges, in pink, are often on top of this. It is too much.
The old adage says “history repeats itself.” Well, here in “Stuart on the St Lucie,” history cannot repeat itself anymore. We must create a new future.
7 thoughts on ““Stuart on the St Lucie,” Real Estate History and the Cluelessness of Developers Regarding the Health of the Indian River Lagoon”
Hi. Are you ok with the RC linking your blog to our site so people can read it everyday? I love it and it is so educational! 😃
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Everybody loves to hate the USACE! The real problem is not USACE; the sooner everybody understands that the sooner you can reach a real solution. USACE operates under funding and authorization constraints handed down from congress. If you want the problem solved, get it funded and authorized by legislation; constantly attacking USACE does no good.
Its funny, nobody minds that the canal was dredged and permanently connected to salt water; there is only concern about additional development that followed the original manipulation of the system. Who is looking out for the fresh water environment that preceded the canal?
No one…..thank you for your insightful and honest comments
When we humans race into something without understanding it, or think of only short term gain, long term horror is always unleashed. (We made a pirate ship out of a fallen Australian Pine also!) Thanks for fighting the good fight Jacqui.
Twin pirate ships! Now that’s a common identity factor!:)