1885–When St Lucie River was 20 Feet Deep…St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Rare wood cut map of St Lucie River, ca. 1885, by Homer Hines Stuart.  Image shows water depth in heart of St Lucie River near today's Roosevelt Bridge at 20 feet. (Courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Rare wood cut map of St Lucie River, ca. 1885, by Homer Hine Stuart. Image shows water depth in heart of St Lucie River near today’s Roosevelt Bridge at 20 feet. (Courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Homer Hines Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named. (Portrait courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Homer Hine Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named. (Portrait courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

Some days I get really lucky because people send me cool stuff based on what I wrote the previous day in my blog. Yesterday this happened with both my mother, Sandra Thurlow, Dr Gary Gorfoth and a slew of other comments . I will be sharing some of my mother and Dr Goforth’s insights today.

Yesterday’s blog: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/06/25/sediment-loads-into-the-st-lucie-river-2015-dr-gary-goforth-slrirl/)

After reading my post on sediment loads in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and how they have lessened the natural depths of the river/s, my historian mother, sent me the awesome image of a historic wood cut at the top of this post created around 1885 by Homer Hine Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named.

This historic wood cut shows the depth of the St Lucie River at 20 feet in the area of what would become the span for the Roosevelt Bridge.  A contemporary navigation chart below, shows the depth of the water in this area at 11 feet. At least 9 feet of sediment and or —MUCK!

Contemporary St John's waterway navigation map, public files, shows the depth of the St Lucie River at the Roosevelt Bridge at 11 feet.
Contemporary St John’s waterway navigation map, public files, shows the depth of the St Lucie River at the Roosevelt Bridge at 11 feet.

“Jacqui, Your post about sediments made me think of this little map. Homer Hine Stuart, Jr. for whom Stuart is named, had a little wood cut map that was about 4 by 2 1/2 inches and looked like one of those address stamps we use today made. Maps made from the wood cut were used to show his the location of his property and his bungalow “Gator’s Nest” to his family in New York and Michigan. This image was made from a photograph of the wood cut. It is printed is reverse so the writing, etc., isn’t backward. You can see that there was 20 feet of water depth between the peninsulas that would later be connected by bridges. The date of the map would be around 1885.”  –Mom

Dr Goforth also wrote. He tells a sad story mentioning that Stuart News editor and famed environmentalist Ernie Lyons wrote prolifically about the great fishing in the St Lucie prior to the construction of the St Lucie Canal (C-44) in 1923.

“… the St. Lucie River and Estuary was known as the “Giant Tarpon Kingdom” before the Lake Okeechobee discharges began in 1923; after the Lake Okeechobee discharges began the muck from the Lake despoiled the clear waters and drove the tarpon offshore, and the area was recast as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” (Lyons 1975: The Last Cracker Barrel).

Thankfully, Dr Goforth gives an idea to fix and or improve the accumulation of muck sediments into the St Lucie River:

One effective means of reducing the sediment/much discharges from the Lake would be the construction of a sediment trap just upstream of the St. Lucie Locks and Spillway. This simple approach has worked well in other areas, most recently in West Palm Beach on the C-51 Canal just upstream of the Lake Worth Lagoon (see attached fact sheet). By deepening and widening the C-44 canal just upstream of the locks/spillway, a large portion of the sediment would settle out of the water in a relatively contained area before entering the River; with routine dredging, the material can be removed and spread over adjacent lands… —(perhaps using lands along the canal purchased by Martin County and SFWMD?). —-Dr Gary Goforth

Muck Removal using sediment trap, Lake Worth Lagoon, shared by Dr Gary Goforth.
Muck Removal using sediment trap, Lake Worth Lagoon, C-51, shared by Dr Gary Goforth.

Kudos to Dr Goforth’s ideas. Kudos to my mother’s history! Let’s get Governor Rick Scott to work and get to work ourselves too!  We can do it. Together, we can do anything. 🙂

___________________________

MUCK THEMED PHOTOS:

Muck coats the bottom of our beautiful river but determination coats our hearts. We and future generations will continue to fight to save our  St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

 

Muck from St Lucie River, 2014.
Muck from St Lucie River, covering oysters, 2014.
Rob Moir teaches Hannah Lucas about muck at the River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT event,  March 2014.
Jim Moir teaches Hannah Lucas about muck at the River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT event, March 2014.
Muck Buster, River Kidz 2014.
Muck Buster, River Kidz 2014.
Photo of Stuart News article where Kevin Powers of the SFWMD shows Gov. Rick Scott some muck that is located at the end of Power's dock in Stuart. 2014. (Photo Stuart News)
My close up photo of front page Stuart News article where Kevin Powers of the SFWMD shows Gov. Rick Scott a shovel full of muck from around Power’s dock in Stuart. 2014. (Photo Stuart News)
Mark Perry and I display our "muckstaches" for Florida Oceanographics fundraiser/awareness raiser, 2015.
Mark Perry and I display our “muckstaches” for Florida Oceanographics fundraiser/awareness raiser, 2015.
River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT campaign and bumper sticker, 2014.
River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT campaign and bumper sticker, 2014.

13 thoughts on “1885–When St Lucie River was 20 Feet Deep…St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. From my brother, Todd: Hey – Jac. Neat suff.! It is still 20 feet deep, or deeper, in that area right off the docks west of the bridge. Someone can check the depth finder next time they are in that area. I know I saw at least 18 the other day when I was leaving the gas dock. The current rips through there crazy fast and keeps it clean.

    T3

    Like

  2. They spent more millions of tax dollars dredging the sebastion river. It was 7 foot deep and dead(without life} and now its 14 foot deep and just as dead. Whip t do

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From Maggy Hurchalla. Very interesting!
    —-Jacqui,
    In adition to muck, a big part of the sediment load in the South Fork around Palm City came back in the seventies from the banks of the St. Lucie Canal.
    Extending the dike all around the Lake and raising Lake levels in the 60’s made it possible to save more water. It also made it necessary to dump more water.
    The heavy discharges were ripping out the steep sandy banks of the canal to the point that state road 76 had to be moved back from the canal.
    When the sediment hit the wide part of the St. Lucie around Palm City, the current slowed and the sediment settled out. Maggy H.

    Like

  4. I wish I had time because I am sure the bottom is full of ammonia and HCL( Gastric acid). But right now I am doing all my 57 YO body can do. I think I will let them document how silty type of sand will stop rotting macro algie from stinking. I am going to use a screen to see if I can find some of those (now rare) clams that Indians used to eat to see if I can get them started in front of lagoon house

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Every time they had those big cane fires it just produced tons more nitric acic and now much of floridas waters are like a big pickle jar. But instead of viniger preserveing the organic material its nitric acid preserving everything

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If we ever had an earthquake it would not surprise me if Orlando became another big lake O. Big city build on limestone producing millions of tons of nitric acid—-great

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 2 years ago the newspaper read muck has clogged elbow creek on eau gallie river. So I put my sand in there and muck was gone. What I did not exspect is about 40 curlew(bird) stayed just down stream for a whole year feeding on the creatures that were living in the muck after I put my sand in. Curlew about 18 inchs tall and have a curved pink peak and pink feet. Ever single day they would have their heads down feeding.If the lagoon was functioning they way it has for thousands of years many creatures would start their lives in muck.Spoonbills mouths are designed just for feeding on these creatures.I hope river kids are reading this

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am sure a whole book could be written on how muck used to react with the calcium that lined the shores of the lagoon 100 years ago and produce not only oxygen but provided food for fish –wildlife–and plants on an unbelieveable scale. The human race seems destined to destroy ourselves

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s