Francis La Baron’s 1885 Map-“the Mouth of the Indian River Lagoon,” SLR/IRL

Portion of 1885 Francis LaBaron Map of IRL/SLR. Courtesy of Todd Thurlow and Sandra Thurlow correspondence, 2015.)
Portion of 1885 Francis La Baron Map of IRL/SLR. Courtesy of Todd Thurlow, Sandra Thurlow, and Rick Langdon correspondence, 2015.)

On Friday, I like to post something of beauty or interest regarding the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Old maps are about as cool as things get for me. They take my mind off my idea that  things “are permanent.” For instance, the “mouth of the Indian River Lagoon” or its inlet/s, vary in “time and place,” as we can see from this hand drawn map of our area in the 1885 map above where the “inlet” is north of Ft Pierce and there is none in Stuart.

The St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is dynamic, and we too, although we may not realize it,  are a huge part of that constant flux.

I wonder what people will think of our old satellite maps when they look at them in the next 130 years? Where will the IRL’s “mouth” be? Will some “mouths” have closed? Will there be others we have never even thought of?

My historian mother, Sandra Thurlow, shared this map with me and referred to it  as the “Francis La Baron Map.” This portion posted above is just a section of it.

Francis La Baron, among other things, was the head of the Army Corp of Engineers.

Francis  La Baron (!search/profile/person?personId=19587320&targetid=profile)

La Baron’s map is incredible to study. How wonderful that our area was documented and that this documentation has been saved in Washington DC’s Library of Congress!  Thank you to my brother Todd and my mother for bringing it to my attention. I think Todd will be using it in another one of his magic carpet videos in the future like the previous one he did of Peck’s Lake: (

In closing, one of the historian friends my mother corresponds with is Mr Rick Langdon of Indian River Drive. I am including some of his thoughts on the map below that my mother shared with me. Very interesting!  Hope you’ll share your thoughts too.

—–This “historically shoaling natural inlet” location is a bit further north… (of Ft Pierce); it’s almost a mile and a half North of the Ft. Capron location at the junction of (perhaps) 4 man-made “cuts” – the Bluehole Cut, the Garfield Cut, the Negro Cut, and the Ft. Pierce Cut.

It’s interesting too that this map shows only one natural outlet from the Savannas and that’s the one which leads to the Creek at the Beacon 21 Condo’s in Rio – (Warner Creek) …Rick Langdon 

Portion of 1885 Francis LaBaron Map of IRL/SLR. Courtesy of Todd Thurlow and Sandra Thurlow correspondence, 2015.)
Same as above for viewing purposes. A Portion of 1885 Francis LaBaron Map. (Click to enlarge.)


3 thoughts on “Francis La Baron’s 1885 Map-“the Mouth of the Indian River Lagoon,” SLR/IRL

  1. ” I came across this recently in Hampton Dunn’s Re-Discover Florida: “Florida’s pebble phosphate industry, different from hard rock, had its start in 1884-85 when Capt. J. Francis La Baron, an Army engineer, made the discovery in the bed of Peace River near Fort Meade.” (That’s Army engineer as in Army Corp of Engineers. That’s phosphate as in fertilizer. Everything is interrelated–the good and the bad–it is hard to know which is which.

    1. Mom, I thank you so much for this. I noticed the link to ( that is not opening right now but did earlier. (Todd had shared it.) It is about La Baron “discovering around the area of “bone valley or the phosphate mines…the ancient animal graveyards…On this site, next, it brags about how 75% of fertilizer used in the US is from Florida’s phosphate mines. I am somewhat confused about organic vs synthetic fertilize as phosphate is organic that’s for sure—-and according to what I have read from the National Research Council it is the synthetic fertilizer that is really casing water pollution issues. Of course phosphate mines themselves are very very destruction to the environment—ie the Peace River’s story… Most of all like you alluded to it is ironic that fertilizer is one of the things that is killing the SLR/IRL. Yes it is all connected! 🙂 ( ORLANDO SENTINEL story on La Baron, etc: ( Thanks for commenting!

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