Are We Really Living in the Everglades? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Everglades Drainage District Map of 1947Township 40 Range 39is within the District. That was just a section away from the Gomez Grant where the Ashley Gang  lived. Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian.
“Everglades Drainage District Map, 1947, by Alfred Jackson and Kathyrn Hannah’s book “Lake Okeechobee” from the “Rivers of America” series. Note Township 40 Range 39 is within the District. That was just a section away from the Gomez Grant where the Ashley Gang lived”—-Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian.
here is a map 1920 -- Source: Leslie's New World Atlas (New York, NY: Leslie-Judge Company, 1920) in Univ. of South Florida collection ---- which shows that there was more swamp land. alice Luckhardt, historian.
“1920s map — Source: Leslie’s New World Atlas (New York, NY: Leslie-Judge Company, 1920) in Univ. of South Florida collection —- which shows that there was more swamp land than census notes…” Alice Luckhardt, historian.
Historic map from 1948 book "Lake Okeechobee" written in 1948 by Alfred Jackson and Kathryn Hanna as part of the Rivers of America Series.
Historic map, ca. late 1800s, unknown source. Courtesy of Sandra H. Thurlow, historian.

Today our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon Region is referred to as the “Northern Everglades,” back then, it was all the “Everglades”….

Today’s historic photos were shared because of my last two days of blogging featuring my brother Todd’s flying video showing where the dreaded C-44 canal entered the South Fork of the St Lucie River in 1923 connected from Lake Okeechobee.

Alice Luckhardt, friend and local historian, has been trying to figure out where the Everglades actually “started” in Martin County as she is writing a history of Martin County’s infamous Ashley Gang. (They used to hide out in the Everglades.)  Alice’s Leslie’s New World Atlas 1920s map, the second from the top of this page,  kind of makes Martin County “look” pretty dry….as do the other two maps shared by my mother…

Viewed closely,  the old maps show different “Everglades” boarders as seen most clearly in the 1949 Everglades Drainage District map at the top of this page. This map comes from my mother’s files and she notes that it shows “Township 40, Range 39, in Martin “in” the Everglades….

So what determines “the Everglades?”

Of that I am not certain but in my mind it is a swamp. But swamps in Florida “come and go” with the rains. Also the Everglades has many different faces/landscapes that are part of a greater whole–different kinds of micro environments like pine forest, hardwood hammocks, mangroves forests, endless sawgrass prairies, tall ancient cypress forests, marshlands, wetlands, ponds, some higher ridges separating rivulets and standing water, little creeks that come and go, shallow clean fresh water flowing ever so slowly across white sugar sands…Aggg! Did I just say that! 🙂

So anyway, I then went to the US Government maps my brother showed me awhile back and here one can see the “little ponds “of the Everglades right there in Stuart, Jensen Beach, and of course in what is today’s Palm City. They were in today’s St Lucie County too. Wouldn’t this be the “everglades?”

In fact, when I was a kid, there was a large pond near our family home on East Ocean Boulevard across from today’s Fresh Market. Now it’s gone…and the road goes through…”They” moved it….

I think we have really moved just about “everything.” Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean we can’t put some of it back, or start draining and saving water in a new way. Studying old maps and aerials is a good place to start!

US Government 1940s aerials show little ponds all over Martin County. (UF)
US Government 1940s aerials show little ponds all over Martin County. (UF)

*Thank you to historians Alice Luckhardt and Sandra Thurlow and Todd Thurlow for sharing their cool old maps!

Todd Thurlow’s flying history video showing the connection of the C-44 canal from Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River, ca. 1923: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

SFWMD The Everglades: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20protecting%20and%20restoring/americas%20everglades)

6-8-15 blog post that inspired maps shared today, C-44 original connection to South Fork- an amazing visual journey, Todd Thulow: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/06/08/journey-back-in-time-to-see-the-creation-of-c-44-the-greatest-negative-impact-to-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

6-9-15 blog post, Manatee Pocket route for C-44:(https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/06/09/the-most-logical-route-for-the-c-44-canal-port-salerno-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

How to read township and range in old plat maps: (http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html)

7 thoughts on “Are We Really Living in the Everglades? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. This morning I put shells at a local fishing pier .NOW there are allways 20 or 30 people fishing.Most of them kids. I allways take time to tell children what I am doing. I tell them that they need to drink milk to get calcium to make their bones grow.Fish have no milk to drink and they get their calcium from the algie that grows on the shells I put in. There are thousands of acres that should be sea grass on the east shore of our lagoon And all it would take is maby 5 or 6 dumptrucks of sea shells.Sometimes I think manitees sit and watch areas where I put shells last year–waiting for the grass to grow.

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  2. YES shells from the beach are the best to make the sea grass to grow. There is more surface area on crushed shells to react with acid so the nutriants that are preserved in acid can be released so grass can suck it up. I believe larger shells sink deeper so sea grass roots can go deeper.Blue crabs shells are calcium so I use the fine silty calcium where there is a current to leave a calcium layer over a large area. I have schools of fish larger than a football field that depend on this method too

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  3. I love these old maps. You do such a great job explaining them. Wow! It is incredible how much water we have moved. Having just done a tour of Calkins water farm I think we can find better ways of storing more water. It is beautiful and full of wildlife. The ranch is thinking of using it as a stop gap to help the St Lucie until the resivor is built… But I couldn’t help dreaming of finding/buying land and rebuilding wetlands as a public park so to speak. A place to walk and enjoy nature. I feel confident we Can find a better way.

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